Steven Banks is the multi-talented head writer for the beloved yellow sea creature SpongeBob Squarepants, Nickelodeon’s most successful cartoon celebrating its 10 year anniversary. He was part of the Nickelodeon panel at Comic-Con 2009, in San Diego California, and granted me an exclusive interview. I asked Mr. Banks a few questions both personal and related to the show, so I hope you enjoy having a little insight on the man behind the sea sponge.


Steven Banks, Head Writer for Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants, and Suzette Valle

What do you think about Comic-Con and how does it help the show?

Comic-Con is to promote stuff, that’s sort of the bottom line. But it also makes it exciting where people can actually meet the voice behind SpongeBob and the other characters, the creators and writers, and get that one-on-one experience you can’t get anywhere else. People can come up to the table and hear the voices, and see exactly how they’re recorded in the studio — very few people get that experience.


While many of us only know your work as the writer for SpongeBob, you also have many other talents backing this character; you’re a musician, actor, comedian and writer. Which of these talents do you enjoy the most?

 Hmmm. Writing, but a lot of the stuff I write, I write for myself and then I do them.  But, I guess to be quite honest I have to say performing. I write a lot of stuff and then I perform it, so in a way I’m doing both things. So that’s great.


At what age did you realize you could actually write?

Probably pretty young, I always liked working with plays, or stories or songs and poems, way back like in elementary school.


So your teachers loved you.

(Laughter) I don’t know if they all loved me, but some did recognize that there was something there, and I read a lot. I just loved to read, and I still do. So I thought this (writing) was neat and that it was something I wanted to do.


After coming up with the zaniness for CatDog, and then writing about the ingenious imagination of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, what do you draw from to write for SpongeBob who has a childlike personality but is an adult? He is an adult, right?

 SpongeBob’s character was well established before I came along; I’ve been on the show for five years – the past four, five, six, seven seasons – so his character was very, very well established. But you do have to learn how to write for it. He [SpongeBob] is very different from all those other characters I wrote for. I guess you just figure out: he would do this, he wouldn’t do that, and this would be a good SpongeBob story. You have to see it through that character’s eyes.


Are you a cat or a dog person?

I guess both, but probably more a dog person.


In an earlier interview you said you liked SpongeBob because he “cries daily”.

(Laughter) Yes, I remember that.


Is this something you wish you could do?

I do. I cry daily!

You do?

No, but SpongebBob is very in touch with his emotions, and just by watching the show I always thought it was funny that he just bursts into tears all the time. Later, I actually wrote an episode just based on that, because I love to see him cry so much. The episode where he bets Squidward he won’t cry for an entire day. He has to hold it in the whole day and they keep seeing beautiful sunsets and sad commercials. That’s sort of what inspired that [comment].


So, how old is SpongeBob?

I have no idea. (Laughter) He could be six or seven. I don’t know, but I don’t think he’s too old.


Will SpongeBob ever get his boating license?

No way!


Oh, that’s sad!

No. We’re not giving away the recipe!

Any plans for a second feature film?

I don’t know. I don’t think so, not at this point. But there’s a very cool thing we’re doing called Legends of Bikini Bottom. I don’t know if it’s going to come out on DVD first or a series, but it’s going to be about some really cool legends.


Is there anyone from your past who said you were not funny who’d you like to coincidentally run into today?

(Laughter) I saw someone the other day that fired me, and that was funny. But, you can’t be doing things to spite people. You know, it’s just human nature. Someone will tell you that you suck, and then someone thinks you’re funny. It’s about doing something that you think is fun.


Finally, do you have any advice for kids who would like to become a writer?

Two things, simple: read and write a lot! Read and write about a lot of different things.


Thanks Mr. Steven Banks for your time and for sharing your talents with our kids through SpongeBob Squarepants. I will certainly never be able to sit and watch the porous sea dweller quite the same way again!



  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great interview. Loved your questions. I am clueless when it comes to Spongebob so I would not have the foggiest notion what to ask. 🙂 That's what research is for. I'll be renting the High School Musical movies this weekend for my research.

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