Stephen Hillenburg: the naive genius who made SpongeBob a cultural titan
The creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, who has died aged 57, channelled the surrealism of 90s animation and his own childlike zest for life into a show that brought joy to millions
There are few creative acts that strike me again and again with such joy as SpongeBob SquarePants. Grinning out from a child’s backpack, or his goofy features cast in milk and sugar and stuck on a lolly stick, the cartoon character is so ubiquitous as to almost become unremarkable. But like all truly great art, its power renews itself: wait, yes, that really is a sponge, with arms and legs and a face, wearing short trousers and a shirt and tie and shiny black boots, and he wants to be everyone’s friend.