Enormously popular Nickelodeon character, SpongeBob SquarePants is 20 this year. To commemorate the anniversary Nickelodeon commissioned Singaporean artist Johnny Lau, creator of iconic local animated character Mr Kiasu, to draw a coffee table book converging the wildly diverse worlds of the two. Lau released the book “Mr Kiasu Meets SpongeBob SquarePants” at the Singapore ComicCon on Saturday.
In local parlance, ‘kiasu’ means fear of missing out. Lau conceived the character when he was doing his national service in the Singapore armed forces. “Both characters come from very different worlds, literally – one is very local and the other is very international,” said Lau. “Between myself and Nickelodeon, it took us three months to brainstorm the story.”
The story has Mr Kiasu going to the beach at Bikini Bottom where SpongeBob lives. When Mr Kiasu takes a swim in the sea, SpongeBob gets accidentally sucked into his body through his ear and the two end up imbuing some of each other’s characteristics. Lau illustrated the story with a live sketch on stage.
Lau said that he was not going to draw and write Mr Kiasu any more. “I am going to move on to other things,” said Lau. “I am going to invite young artists and writers to come along, take over the character and create new stories.”
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” featuring Keanu Reeves and Awkwafina, and in which Tom Kenny reprises his SpongeBob voice role, is due May 2020. A “Mr Kiasu” web series is in development with local studio mm2.