Geek Trivia

Which Of These Cartoon Characters Started Life In An Educational Comic?

George Jetson
SpongeBob SquarePants
The Pink Panther
Mickey Mouse
The Square Of Cloth Found On The Headrests Of Many Airplane and Train Seats Is Called?

Answer: SpongeBob SquarePants

Long before he was famous for producing SpongeBob SquarePants, animator Stephen Hillenburg was a marine-biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute (now known as the Ocean Institute). While employed there, one of the directors asked him if he would be interested in using his talent as an artist to put together some educational comics for the kids visiting the Institute.

One of the characters that came out of Hillenburg’s work was a fact-spouting sea sponge named “Bob the Sponge”, who appeared frequently throughout the comics, sharing facts with the readers. Years later, when Hillenburg was working for Nickelodeon, Bob the Sponge was made over and reworked into the more kitchen-sponge like SpongeBob SquarePants beloved by children today.

The real secret sauce though, as Hillenburg understood from his time at the Marine Institute, was that children absolutely love sea creatures and sea life. Mix in some humor, some lovable characters, and center their lives around a pineapple under the sea, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Image courtesy of Stephen Hillenburg.