LA Comic-Con 2021: The Legacy of Spongebob Squarepants


Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! Los Angeles Comic-Con kicked off their Main Stage panels in true Saturday morning cartoon fashion by giving us the iconic voice actors Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) and Roger Bumpass (Squidward Tentacles).


Moderated by Londyn Jackson, Kenny and Bumpass kicked off the panel by telling the story of where it all began. Kenny had previously worked with series creator Stephen Hillenburg on the hit Nicktoon “Rocko’s Modern Life”. He was recommended for the part of Spongebob by Rocko himself, Calros Alazraqui. Bumpass shared a similar story in which he had come very close to playing Cat on the series “CatDog” (in which Kenny voiced Dog). Hillenberg was a collaborator with “CatDog” creator Peter Hannan and enjoyed Bumpass’ audition so much he asked him to read for the part of Squidward.


Kenny described Hillenburg as a very musical person and that he cast the show as though the actors were all members of a band. “He thought about how they would sound together,” said Kenny, “He just had it all thought out, like J.R.R. Tolkien”. Bumpass brought this up by referencing the popular episode “Sailor Mouth”, in which Spongebob and Patrick learn their first swear words. Each beep for the cursing had their own distinct sound relative to the nautical land of Bikini Bottom. Kenny and Bumpass both revealed that in the recording sessions for those episodes they were given permission to swear and that the raw recording of this exists somewhere within the bowels of Nickelodeon Studios.


The two also spoke to the timelessness of Spongebob and how the show continues to draw in fans young and old due to the cleverness of the writing. Adults that grew up with the show in 1999 are now getting jokes they previously didn’t and beginning to create several popular internet memes with frames from the series. Kenny stated, “I’m always really grateful when adults come up to me and say, ‘My humor came from Spongebob’.”


The panel concluded with some inspirational parting words to never give up or underestimate what you may pass on to the younger generation. The full panel can be viewed here: