FOLKS: What a treat! Thanks for all your questions. I'm pretty sure we've covered everything at this point, so I'm shutting this party down. You know, the problems of 1,235 little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world...but we'll always have Reddit. Good night everybody!


Jay Lender here. I'm a former writer, storyboarder and director of "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Phineas and Ferb." In addition to those shows I storyboarded for "Hey Arnold", "The Angry Beavers" and, in the interest of full disclosure, a little thing called "C-Bear and Jamal", which is best forgotten. I also wrote 2 videogames in the Destroy All Humans series and a few more based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Looney Tunes and others. I've drawn SpongeBob comics, written screenplays (none sold… yet) and done plenty more.

The proof? I just put "welcome reddit fans!" at the front page of If I'm not Jay Lender, then Jay's going to be totally pissed at me for hacking his site. I hope that does it for you.

Anyway, 6 months ago I left my job at Disney in part to complete a personal project. It's a 215 page graphic novel called "Duster" about a war-widow-turned-crop-duster-pilot who must fight to save her daughter from a planeload full of Nazis who crash in her West Texas town just after VE Day. Yes, you heard correctly… Nazis in Texas. You can download the first 39 pages of it at:

There are just a few days left and I really need your support. Read the preview. You will not be disappointed.

Ask away. I'll try to answer as many questions as possible for the next two days, but I'm not going to go without sleep or nuthin'! What's more: followup questions will probably go unanswered--I'll never find them buried in threads I've already written in. I must push on to the bottom of the never-ending list!

At the request of a fan I've included a special Reddit-themed sketch on my website. You can find it by clicking on that Reddit message on the front page. Yours to keep! Drag it to your desktop and treasure it forever! And thanks to Chimerar who committed to send a copy of my graphic novel "to every person I know." Chimerar, your drawing is ALSO on my website. I can only hope that you intend to purchase these copies and not just beat me up and take them.


Twitter: @jaylender1

QUESTION: Is there some way to make the questions which have already been answered move down the list? If we insist on discussing whether there are platypuses controlling us in such great detail I'll never be able to scroll down far enough to see the new questions!

Comments: 1131 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

allyyy08436 karma

the crusty crab in bikini bottom?! genius.

jaylender293 karma

Bikini Bottom is just a cute pun, referring more to the bikini itself than to its contents. Krusty Krab is really just about the alliteration. Anything more than that is being supplied by the listener. Steve NEVER intended any sexual interpretations. Never.

scumorchid225 karma

Hey Jay, Over ten years ago, I emailed you about your thoughts on animation. You were really friendly and helpful with your advice and ive bragged about talking to a Nickelodeon director on more than one occasion in the past. I'm sure you won't remember me but I wanted to let you know I work as a graphic designer/illustrator now and it meant a lot for you to reach out to my random email. Good luck with Duster.

jaylender235 karma

Wow, Zak! Congratulations to you! I hope working in art is everything you dreamed it would be (he says, knowing nothing ever is.) Please send 10% of your current and future earnings to me at...

jaylender144 karma

Porn is in the eye of the beholder... did it excite you?

By the way, have you beheld the 39-page preview of my new graphic novel, Duster? It's available here: SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!

cacatiti188 karma

Spongebob singing "Sweet victory"... that was amazing. Thanks.

jaylender111 karma

Thank Aaron Springer, Carl Greenblatt and Merriwether Williams... and whoever wrote that generic 80s power-pop song.

twiitar178 karma

Is there a platypus controlling you?

jaylender226 karma

There's no platypus controlling me.

WarYoshi57 karma

He's under the table

twiitar67 karma

I got records on my fingers and I just can't stop.

jaylender97 karma

Don't stop!

lurkingshadow149 karma

thanks for making my childhood amazing what was it like to work on these amazing cartoons? any cool storys?

jaylender252 karma

Cool SpongeBob Story: Working on Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II. We had a gag about Mermaid Man trying to zap the Conch with his "sulphur vent vision." Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway were in the recording room for the show and they both wanted to know what the heck that was all about. Well, the creator of the show, Stephen Hillenburg came from a marine biology background, so his eyes lit up when he had the chance to talk about this cool undersea phenomenon ( He launched into a minute-long explanation, during which time Ernest Borgnine's face fell, and eventually landed in a grimace. When Steve breathlessly finished his explanation, Borgnine grunts: "Oh yeah? PROVE it." Total silence. Everybody's blood ran cold... and then Borgnine started laughing. So did the rest of us. He could turn on the tough guy no problem, but he was a sweetheart.

I only met Ernie the one time, but I'm fairly certain that if he had lived long enough, he would have enjoyed my new graphic novel, Duster. And if he could have worked a computer he would certainly have downloaded the 39-page preview at How's that for a segue?

bitparity29 karma

Damn, I totally forgot it was Ernest Borgnine who was Mermaid Man. He'll be missed.

I haven't seen the recent episodes, are there no more Mermaid Man cartoons? Any idea what they'll do with that? (yes yes I know you're not with Spongebob anymore)

jaylender23 karma

I'm way, way out of the loop. Maybe you can get Paul Tibbitt on here to answer those questions...

BlackLabelNo7114 karma

What is your opinion on the newer seasons of Spongebob? Personally I believe they're absolute shit.

jaylender72 karma

I haven't seen much of the new stuff, but there are always stinkers, even in the initial run, and the new guys have a harder time than we ever did because so much ground has already been covered. But I saw a time travel show the other day with Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy that had me ROLLING. Boy was I jealous...

NiMa74109 karma

Because someone had to ask: Where exactly is Perry?

jaylender133 karma

Perry's not really missing yet... but he will be soon. I know where he'll be but there's no force on heaven or earth that can make me tell.

rico_bonsai106 karma

so i heard there was a controversy on this: is spongebob a homosexual?

jaylender547 karma

Gee, people are really fixated on this. The simple answer is: No. SpongeBob is a child and he has childish interests. He's completely unaware of and uninterested in sex, he's neither homosexual nor heterosexual. That said... I did write the gayest episode ever: The Fry-Cook Games.

Of course, I kid... they're just two friends who love each other. And why not? They're lovable!

mademoiselle_B97 karma

Hey Arnold! had to be one of the deepest children shows ever existed. Shit got real at PS 118! One episode that made me tear up was the christmas episode where Arnold helps Mr. Nguyen find his daughter he had given to Americans on the helicopter to escape the Vietnam war. Props on historical accuracy, using a common Vietnamese last name, and using real Vietnamese in the episode.

Overall YAY for character depth on Hey Arnold! :)

jaylender76 karma

We were all VERY proud of that Christmas show. Nickelodeon was not the big company then that it is now... we were allowed to do things that they'd NEVER do now that they're all "respectable."

Toastman0494 karma

Just how stoned must you be to write an episode of Spongrbob?

jaylender209 karma

It's way too hard to write and draw an episode of that show to do it stoned. I certainly never did. You may come up with a good (or at least weird) idea when you're stoned, but you probably can't execute it worth a darn.

mooseman18285 karma

ALSO, are there any spongebob episodes that were not released due to too much adult humor? And if so can you tell me a story? =)

jaylender85 karma

To the best of my knowledge there are no SpongeBob shows that were not released, for any reason, although I did have one of my shows ("Just One Bite") censored after 9/11 for a reference to fire. I've heard that the scene has been restored recently.

duhduhduhdiabeetus80 karma

do you think you can leave us a quick sketch of a reddit themed spongebob scene, off the top of your head?

jaylender90 karma

Done. You can find it by clicking on the "Welcome Reddit Fans" text on the front page at

Now, it would be awesome if you could return the favor by going to to download the preview to my new graphic novel. I need your support!

Xdeathr3v3rX77 karma

What is your favorite cartoon that you worked on?

jaylender284 karma

Hey Arnold: "Pigeon Man" an 11-minute cartoon where the hero FAILS to improve the life of a shut-in... everybody cries when they see it. How the heck did we do that? How did we get away with it?!

SpongeBob: Just One Bite. Squid out of control = funny. Runners up: The Graveyard Shift, The Camping Episode. The end of the Camping Episode is can't-catch-your-breath funny. Both were done with Dan Povenmire.

Phineas and Ferb: Doof Side of the Moon, Brain Drain. These ones were where I finally hit my stride. Road to Danville should be fun, too.

deck6588 karma

I just watched pigeon man for the first time since i was 13. Totally fucking blew my mind how deep that shit was. As a kid I though it was sad but didn't pay attention closely but I almost cried when pigeon man came home to his rooftop destroyed and his birds uncaged. Truly amazing job on that one.

jaylender31 karma

Yes. Thank Joseph Purdy the writer. Truly brilliant stuff.

Immamurican26 karma

I was never the biggest fan of Hey Arnold, but the Pigeon Man episode changed my mind on a lot about that show. It was easily the deepest cartoon moment I had as a kid.

Also, in Just One Bite, there is/was a scene where Squidward walked into the Krusty Krab and spilled a bucket of gasoline and was then lit on fire. What happened to it? They changed it to just zooming into the kitchen, and I was really disappointed because that scene made me laugh so many times.

jaylender54 karma

After 9/11 Nickelodeon went a little bonkers and removed pretty much all depictions of fire or firemen from their cartoons. Nick headquarters is in New York, so it hit them pretty hard at the time...

NiMa7465 karma

For a show as complex yet also linear as Phineas and Ferb, how hectic was the writing process? I know some things of it already, but just making it flow together so well, what kind of things did you guys usually discuss while doing so? Also, what are some of your craziest memories from the writers' room for either show (most amusing/shocking things you have heard someone say, or any other interesting stories)?

jaylender78 karma

I can't imagine a harder show to write than Phineas and Ferb. It's totally dependent on wildly creative ideas--at least two of them per show, Phineas' and Doof's... but it's also rigidly formatted. Trying to make it all come together with any amount of surprise at all is a Herculean task. Every time. The most commonly heard sentence in the P&F writing room goes "Yeah, but we did that in <insert episode title>" Followed by the sound of a head beating against a wall.

The initial ideas come from our writing staff, Scott Peterson, Martin Olson, Jim Bernstein, John Barry and Dani Vetere. Geniuses all, each in their own way; when you work on the show it's easy to tell which ideas came from which writer. They write detailed outlines for each story. Then those are turned over to the directors and storyboard teams and all heck breaks loose. It's easy to say "The helmet falls on Perry and the kids control him like a video game character" but how do you actually SHOW that? And make it believable and interesting? And funny? That's what the storyboard writers do, and more often than not we find that some ideas don't work visually, so new ideas replace them. Sometimes the final storyboard is merely reminiscent of the story that was created by the writers.

Then, the show goes into the animatic phase, where we have to make it all work in 11 minutes--that's where the flow comes in because adding the element of TIME means we're making a SHOW for the first time, not just a roadmap for a show, which is what a storyboard is. We may find that the show is too long and ideas have to be cut, which necessitates new writing to sew the pieces together. Or we may discover that the joke which was so funny in the crew pitch isn't funny at all when it's not being read by someone we know personally. 50-year-old frenchman reading dialog intended for a 4 year old american girl? Funny every time.

So, hectic? Yeah, lots.

Crazy moments happen 50 times a day--it's hard to recognize them when you have nothing BUT them. If I think of anything good, I'll add it.

ScottsTots6957 karma

Whats the best way to avoid attracting a seabear?

jaylender147 karma

Don't be Squidward.

brockwhittaker55 karma

I just wanted to say thanks for all the amazing content that you have shown to the public. My whole childhood I watched SpongeBob.

My Question: How did you guys come up with the ideas and plots for SpongeBob? Were they based off of morals and redone or what?

jaylender80 karma

Morals?! Like MORALITY morals? Never! The writers just come up with ideas that make them laugh. Squidward forced to work a 24-hour shift with SpongeBob? Funny. Patrick copying everything SpongeBob does? Funny. Morals are the last thing anyone was worried about when I was working on SpongeBob. We weren't trying to corrupt kids or anything, but a little candy now and then isn't a bad thing. Kids need entertainment, too!

KittyKatyFish50 karma

Did you ever have a time while writing for Spongebob where you just didn't have any more ideas and if so how did you find something to write about?

jaylender119 karma

"No more ideas" hits about 6 times a day when I'm writing. You find something to write about because you have a deadline and people are waiting for your work. It happens because it must. The best thing is to have a partner in the room with you. You bounce ideas off each other and sparks fly. The key is this: never stop yourself from exploring an idea because you think it's not good enough-- spit it out, let your partner tell you it's not good enough. Talking about it may give one of you an idea that IS good. And sometimes it's worth it just to rule things out...

Kempiet29 karma

How did you get the opportunity to write the episodes for Spongebob? sounds like an awesome job!

jaylender74 karma

This should probably be it's own thread, but here goes.

It WAS an awesome job! When the pilot for SpongeBob was completed I was still working on Hey Arnold. Everybody saw it. Everybody wanted to work on it. We were especially excited that it would be a board-driven show, meaning there would be no script given to the board artists--they'd write it as they drew it. That was the challenge I wanted for myself, so I asked management if they'd let me move to the new show. They said "no." Why move me from a job I do WELL into a job where I'm an unknown quantity? To them, that's just moving zeroes on a ledger--it doesn't solve their labor problem. So I changed the question for them... by quitting. Now the question wasn't "do we want Jay to work on SpongeBob or Arnold" it was "do we want Jay to work at Nickelodeon AT ALL." Lucky for me, the answer this time was "yes." Derek Drymon, the supervising director of the show, gave me a storyboard test and I did a good enough job that they brought me in to make some repairs to an early episode, "Pickles." Then, a week later, when a storyboard position opened up, they threw me in a room with the brilliant Chuck Klein, and I was off to the races.

Mandee43043 karma

What do you think sparked the recent return/renewed interest in 90s television shows on Nick such as Hey Arnold, Rugrats, Doug, All That, etc.? How do you feel about children's programming today versus how it was back in the 90s and early 2000s?

jaylender60 karma

Some kids who grew up in the 90s actually have kids of their own now, so they want their kids to watch what THEY watched; Rocko, Doug, Hey Arnold, etc. Plus, Nickelodeon has tons of programming that they haven't really exploited on DVD or even aired recently on their own channel, so it's natural that they'd want to squeeze some more money out of it. I'm not sure why it went away in the first place. The biggest worry I have for that old stuff is that while it may have been shot on film, most of it was edited at video resolution, and quite often tweaked with "paintbox" effects at video resolution so that there is no high definition version available. It's POSSIBLE to make one by going back to the original films, re-editing and redoing the paintbox fixes, just ask the people behind the recent Star Trek: The Next Generation blu-ray releases, but it would require ENORMOUS effort and expense (at least by Nickelodeon TV Animation standards) and I wouldn't hold my breath. At some point those old shows will just look like garbage to eyes that are accustomed to higher quality, and that's a terrible shame.

[deleted]40 karma


Hey Arnold

Destroy All Humans

Well if you had only written Mario and Zelda, you would be my childhood.


What was your favorite Spongebob episode that you wrote/co-wrote?

jaylender23 karma

Who lets a kid play Destroy All Humans?!

I mentioned favorite SpongeBob episodes elsewhere...

[deleted]36 karma


jaylender65 karma

You probably ARE over-analyzing it, but it's still an interesting thought. I think there are MANY reasons that SpongeBob is a hit. Here are a few.

1) He's a super-positive character. We all wish we had his outlook on life. 2) Brilliant designs. The characters in this show could be reduced to single colored shapes, like the marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms, and you'd know exactly who they are. A bit of (probably) never-to-be-repeated genius. 3) Incredible talent and hard work. Everybody who worked on that show, was insanely talented, led by Steve and Derek, who were super-dedicated and inspiring. I was often there on the weekend, often at 1AM... almost never alone. 4) A desire to make a show WE liked. Chuck Jones was often asked these questions about the Looney Tunes shorts: Why do they last? How did you make a cartoon adults can enjoy? He would answer "We didn't make them for kids and we didn't make them for adults; we made them for ourselves." That's the key. If you don't believe in what you're doing the audience can smell it from a mile away, but if you want to watch what you make, then SOMEONE else will too, because your work is GENUINE. We never made a show thinking "what would kids want?" We did what made US laugh. And nothing in the show (and this applies to P&F, too) is FOR adults. The keys is to simply not make the show HOSTILE TO KIDS.

PlasticLaugh27 karma

Are there any jokes/Easter eggs in the background that a lot of people miss or overlook?

jaylender29 karma

Probably... I can neither confirm nor deny that Bubble Bass is based on Chuck Klein. In-jokes tend not to be added at animation stage because so many people follow the storyboarder who does the initial drawing (animatic directors, timers, animators); it takes a lot of work to put an animation gag in there and everybody has to be pulling in the same direction for it to get to screen. Background designers and painters get away with murder, though.

Comics is a better medium for that kind of thing, and I put a TON of stuff like that in the backgrounds of my "Patrick's Bellybutton" strip for Nickelodeon Magazine.

biyabo26 karma


jaylender21 karma

Sounds like Tea at the Treedome, so it's probably a Paul Tibbitt or Mark O'Hare thing.

elh519nyc26 karma

What is the Krabby Patty secret sauce?

jaylender33 karma

I'll never reveal the secret.

samageddon25 karma

Did you write the scene where the little "hoopla" guy gets hit in the head with a brick? If so, why and how did you come up with that? When I first saw it, despite full sobriety, I laughed so hard I cried. Television never induced that much laughter from me, before or since.

jaylender13 karma

I think that's a Carl and Aaron bit. Sorry it wasn't me!

edgegripsubz20 karma

Holy crap I remember C- Bear and Jamal. I remember watching this one particular episode where Jamal was secretly planning to prank on his dad's new girlfriend. How much do you remember about this particular show.

jaylender26 karma

I've blotted most of it from my memory--quite successfully I might add--until now. I did one or two shows. I seem to remember something about the kids being on stage, but I couldn't tell you more. C-Bear was a short gig I did between my initial job as a background designer on Hey Arnold, and my second stint as a storyboarder.

kittywitch919 karma

In the episode where SpongeBob and Patrick learn curse words, were the VAs actually cursing during the recording, and if so what happened to that tape?

jaylender23 karma

I wish I knew the answer to this question! That's one for Tibbitt.

DADGAD18 karma

The first time I saw Spongebob and Pantera combined I nearly shat myself with glee. How did you guys/gals come up with the idea to combine Pantera (before the death of Dimebag IIRC) and Spongebob?

Did someone walk into work one day and say "Spongebob and Pantera, let's do this!"?

jaylender6 karma

Was that during my time there? I know not of what you speak!

mooseman18214 karma

can you share with us your favorite subliminal sex/adult jokes from spongebob?

jaylender16 karma

No such thing that I know of. We did plenty of those jokes, but those post-its went on the backs of our office doors and nowhere else.

McDestructor14 karma

What was the inspiration behind the "Friend eating butterfly" episode, quite possibly the most absurd thing i've ever seen, not that it's a bad thing though. Edit: more questions 1) so, is that sponge porn? 2) I heard that the characters were based on the 7 deadly sins, is that true and if so, who's what ps, thank you sooo much for making my childhood, coincidentally i'm re-watching spongebob whilst writing this

jaylender20 karma

I don't know about the butterfly thing, but I'll address the anemone scene since people seem to like talking about that.

It doesn't have to be porn to be embarrassing... like when you're watching "Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus" and your girlfriend walks in. not that that's ever happened to me.

FranceOhnohnohn13 karma

Is it true that Spongebob was first written for adults on Nick at Night?

Also, Where's Perry??

jaylender17 karma

No. SpongeBob episodes from the first three seasons premiered at 8 O'Clock, in the Nick at Night time block, but they were intended for a general audience and expected to be aired primarily in daytime blocks.

docpotterywood13 karma

You sir are a god for writing my childhood. I'm studying animation atm, and I've decided I want to write for cartoons. What do you think is the best way to achieve this?

jaylender25 karma

At last! A god!

The best way to write for cartoons is to write cartoons. If you want to write for a scripted cartoon, find some produced cartoon scripts. They must be on the web, or I'd be willing to be that Mark Evanier could point you in the right direction. He's got a million of them. Learn storytelling. The Power of Myth (by Joseph Campbell) and Story (by Robert McKee) are required reading. Then learn how to format a script. Anything you can do to distinguish yourself will help when you start knocking on doors. Get ready to knock on doors.

If you DRAW, do some comics--they're the easiest (and lowest cost) way for people to see that you can tell a story AND draw. Practice your drawing. Life-drawing of human beings. Learn structure. There's structure under all cartoon characters unless you're Milt Gross.

asolarmi12 karma

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

jaylender14 karma

Yes. Don't invest your ego in one perfect nugget of genius--if people don't see it the way you do it's going to BREAK you. SpongeBob beat that out of me in a hurry. We worked on post-its so if an idea didn't work we could just tear it off and stick up something that did. We tore off a LOT of post-its.

Work on LOTS of stuff. Work on your own stuff. Many irons in the fire is best for a writer, I think.

LukesSkywalker11 karma

Spongebob is awesome!

How long does it take create one episode? ( concept to the moment it airs )

What was Spongebob watching when Gary walks in and he switches the channel to football, and what other jokes did you put in there that were meant for adults?

jaylender9 karma

It probably takes about 9-10 months for a spongeBob show to be completed, from story to storyboard to animatic, timing, design, color, shipping the show overseas for animation, waiting for it to come back (3 months or so) then the various post production tasks--retakes, editing, color correcting, music, voice re-records, etc. The air date is up to the network, so some episodes can sit around for months before they show up on your TV.

hostolis7 karma

Are you aware that Spongebob was banned for quite some time (in 2007) in Greece because it "Portrays gay behaviour"?

This was after the episode where Spongebob and Patrick are "parents" to a jellyfish, IIRC

jaylender14 karma

My show, naturally.

spacecadetjames6 karma

  1. What is your educational background?
  2. Biggest professional regret
  3. Can you send me some spongebob swag?
  4. Sandy or Miss Puff?

jaylender11 karma

1) I attended The Rhode Island School of Design for 2 years and California Institute of the Arts for 4. 2) Staying out of animation for 7 years between SpongeBob and Phineas. It was too long to be gone. 3) No. But one day I'll let you BUY the SpongeBob Christmas cookie from the live action wraparound to the Christmas show. I've got it. 4) Isn't it obvious?

omglolol296 karma

What is the creative process like for writing spongebob episodes? I grew up with the show and have always adored how out there the show's writing is.

jaylender7 karma

Draw picture and write dialog. Crumple it up. Bang head on desk. Repeat. Draw 300 pictures in 5 minutes. Pitch to group. Redraw 200 of them in 2 weeks.

I was never involved in the writing of the premises, but usually people come to those meetings with a 1 paragraph idea. If the group likes it they discuss, then someone will take that paragraph and work it up into a page. The group reviews that, makes suggestions, and it goes back for more writing and expansion. When that's approved it goes to a storyboard team.

Often the board team would find that some part of the outline didn't work visually, or was too dependent on talking (a natural consequence of the initial phase being in text only) so we'd make big changes, strip the story down to its bare essentials, then start rebuilding it visually, by drawing out the sequences that we KNEW had to be in the show, or which were somehow exciting to us. We'd divide the work up between the partners. I'll do this section, you do this other one. When a section was done we'd put it up on the wall and let our partners tear it apart, make suggestions, changes, whatever. Because we had it on the wall it was always there for reference, so we could make sure we were working toward each other. We had a single week to make a rough board for a show, then Steve and Derek would come in to review and make notes. The second week would be spent incorporating their notes, combing through the board to add drawings and gags, sharpen dialog, etc. Then, on Thursday afternoon Derek and Steve would return to the room and we'd all go through every drawing and every line of dialog, making it all sound like the characters, improving tone, fixing story problems and adding more jokes and funny drawings. The room would be knee deep in discarded post-its after that. We usually finished around 9-10PM. The following morning we'd pitch the show to the crew and find out if anything worked. We'd have 2 weeks after that to fix changes, make everything pretty. I usually added lots more poses and gags at that stage. It's a process of continual improvement.