Monday, August 9, 2010


I was very saddened to hear the news that legendary screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz passed away last week, at the age of 68.

Of course, like most comics fans my age, Superman: The Movie remains one of--if not the--greatest superhero movie of all time. Growing up, I had no idea who wrote the movie, nor did I care: I just knew I loved it (and its sequel). I was familiar with director Donner, but outside of him I didn't know who were the geniuses behind it.

But then when DVDs came out, Superman: The Movie featured a commentary track by director Richard Donner and screenwriter Mankiewicz, and listening to these two old friends reminisce about the movie was a revelation: I realized then just how important Mankiewicz's contribution was to the movie, and was masterstroke it was for Donner to have asked him to come in (under the guise of "Creative Consultant") and rework the script, which was a mishmash of action scenes and Batman TV show-style jokes.

I loved the commentary track so much I went out and bought other DVDs that featured Mankiewicz (Live and Let Die, for example--Mankiewicz wrote several of the early 70s Bond films), and his funny, humble, and self-effacing completely won me over. I considered even finding a way to contact him and writing a gushing fan letter, but for all the normal reasons, I didn't.

Now of course I'm sorry I didn't do that, because I'll never have the chance. Even if I had embarrassed myself, it would have been nice to let Mr. Mankiewicz know how much his work meant to me.

I originally thought of doing a portrait of him as a tribute, but that didn't seem like the kind of thing Mr. Mankiewicz would have wanted. So I decided to a portrait of his crowning achievement, Christopher Reeve as Superman. As I was finalizing it, I also decided to make it look slightly reminiscent of a movie trading card, hence the clipped background. Its no masterpiece or anything, but it was done with total admiration and respect and a joy to work on.

Rest in peace, Tom Mankiewicz.

1 comment:

Michael Jones said...

Really dig the eyes on your Reeve.

I, too, think fondly of Mr. Mankiewicz. I just watched Ladyhawke the other day and didn't even know he wrote it. Once I looked it up, I thought, "Of course!"

RIP Tom.