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I started self-publishing a comic book called Funnytime Features to show the show’s creator, Joe Murray, what I could do.When Steve was promoted to creative director of was just one of those shows that were the first break for a lot of people who went on to do other stuff in the business.
The series started strongly (in a vote of early confidence, parent network Nickelodeon aired its debut immediately following the broadcast of its highly rated Kids’ Choice Awards), and it found a loyal audience among children as well as adults who appreciated its whimsy and slyly deceptive sophistication.
(Only later would the broadcaster learn that the program was also popular among college students in various states of sobriety and among gay viewers—but more on that later.) ’s first era ended in 2004 with the conclusion of the third season.
From the beginning, Hillenburg emphasized that the stories should focus on the characters, never striving for the archly ironic, self-aware cool that might fleetingly catch viewers’ fancy but which inevitably wears out its welcome.
To this day, long after Hillenburg handed his characters off to others, that approach remains the show’s credo.
I was so excited to get the job—it was the first time I was getting paid for my ideas.
I remember driving home on the day I got the promotion and thinking somehow it would all go wrong. The show was being canceled, and Nickelodeon was moving away from storyboard-driven shows like .I remember his bringing it up to Mark in our office and asking him if he’d be interested in working on it.Mark had just sold a comic strip  to Universal Press Syndicate, and so wouldn’t have the time.But there were character drawings—not really model sheets—but drawings of the characters, personality profiles, graphic studies of Sponge Bob’s pineapple house and Squidward’s tiki head house, the Krusty Krab, a lobster-trap-shaped structure.It was typical Steve: fully realized before he even mentioned it to anyone.Hogan’s Alley spoke with some of those people who offered their insights and reminiscences about their experiences in animating the world’s most famous sponge. —The odds of a property getting picked up and produced are remote, but Stephen Hillenburg had honed his chops on the critically acclaimed Rocko’s Modern Life.Just as importantly, Hillenburg had become acquainted with the coterie that would help him bring his vision to fruition., a Nicktoons show created by Joe Murray.By the time I saw it, I was just blown away by the groundwork.And he learned a lot of those lessons from Joe Murray on Rocko. Drymon: I was teamed up with the storyboard director Mark O’Hare, who had been Steve’s storyboard artist for the first three seasons of [, and I was thrilled to be working for him.The comic book featured a sponge named Bob that was the first incarnation of the spongiform sprite.But his passion for animation led him to a role as creative director of Joe Murray’s cartoon, .