web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #300 – Part 1

1 2 3
Next »

Welcome to the three hundredth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and ninety-nine.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Musical Legends Revealed to discover how a Broadway musical directly affected the legacy of a U.S. President, plus also the true origin of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tune, “Edelweiss.”

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 followers on Twitter, you’ll have the option to get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again) to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Since this is the 300th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, this week you will get more than TRIPLE the regular amount of legends! In fact, we’ll be taking up the entire weekend with Comic Book Legends Revealed! The second part is posted here and the third part is posted here. The special theme this week is that there will be one legend related to each one of the Top Five Writers and Top Five Artists from our recent Top 100 Comic Book Writers and Artists countdown! So that’s a total of ten legends! And all about the biggest names in comics! In fact, Part 3 on Sunday will contain perhaps my most requested legend of all time! So be sure to come by every day this weekend to get the full experience of Comic Book Legends Revealed #300!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee never finished the screenplay he was working on with famed French New Wave director Alain Resnais.

STATUS: Quite Literally Both False and True.

Stan Lee was #5 on the Top 50 Comic Book Writers countdown.

Alain Resnais first gained notoriety with his classic documentary about the Nazi concentration camps, Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog), which was one of the first documentaries to tackle this very difficult subject upon its release in 1955.

Emboldened by his documentary success, Resnais turned to feature films, and his first film, 1959’s Hiroshima mon amour, firmly placed him right up there with the best of the French New Wave scene.

His 1961 film, L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year in Marienbad), also gained a ton of acclaim.

Interestingly, though, for the dark subject matter of his early films, Resnais was a big fan of comic books. In fact, before the release of Hiroshima mon amour, Resnais was hoping to adapt Herge’s TinTin album, The Black Island.

Around this same time, he tried to do a film based on Red Ryder!

So it is not much of a surprise that when he visited New York City in the late 1960s/early 1970s (some time between 1968 and 1971), he made a point of seeking out Stan Lee. The two men became friends and Resnais told Lee (well, at least Lee said that Resnais told him) that Resnais learned English through reading Marvel Comics! Around that time, the two decide to work together. Resnais, you see, never writes his films. Instead, unlike many directors, he not only treats his screenwriter as a valuable piece of the puzzle, but as “co-auteur,” and much in the theater tradition, Resnais treats the screenwriter’s words as practically sacrosanct.

In any event, soon after meeting Lee, he decided to collaborate with Lee.

And here is the rub. I’ve received a number of questions over the years (well, three, but three is a number!) about the extent to which Lee worked with Resnais. Did they ever get anything done? Obviously they never made a movie together, but what DID they do? Some readers insist they completed a screenplay while others feel that they never did (thinking that it was just another one of those projects you hear about that just went nowhere).

Story continues below

The trick is that they did BOTH – an aborted project and a full-out screenplay. You see, Lee and Resnais collaborated on TWO proposed films!

In a 1972 article for the Harvard Crimson, writers Phil Patton and Sharon Shurts noted:

What emerged was a script for a film to be called The Inmates. The setting was to be the Bronx, which, Resnais says, has for the Frenchman all the attraction of the exotic. Then the problems began. Resnais went to producers and offered to shoot the script for a million dollars. No, they said, to do it right you would have to go to Japan for special effects and spend three million: for a million it would only be an “intellectual” film. Now a second script by Stan Lee also seems doubtful of acceptance by American producers, and Resnais speculates on the irony that he may end up shooting The Inmates in a mock-up of the Bronx in Yugoslavia.

A collaboration of Alain Resnais and Stan Lee, if it is ever realized, may well be a combination as significant and as perfect as that, eleven years ago, of Resnais and the French author Alain Robbe-Grillet, in the creation of Last Year at Marienbad.

In an interview with David Kraft for the FOOM (Marvel’s mid-70s fan magazine), Lee spoke of the film:

It’s called The Inmates, and it has to do with the whole human race, why we’re on Earth, and what our relationship is with the rest of the Universe. It poses a theory which I hope is a very original, unusual one. But it’s done in human terms, like a regular story; it’s not a far-out science-fiction thing. It’s very philosophical – but there is a lot of science fiction. I think it’s a great story. I’ve written the treatment for it, and I suggested that Alain get another screenwriter to do the screenplay based on my treatment. It’d still be our story: I’d still be involved in it; yet, this way, we wouldn’t have to wait. But he keeps saying he wants it to be my script completely – he wants it to be my language.

Over twenty years later, Stan Lee was still speaking of trying to do something with the project. It never make it past the treatment stage. So to reader Jay S. who wrote in to say that he heard that Lee and Resnais never really got any substantially done on the Inmates, you are correct.

However, soon after they met, Lee DID complete a DIFFERENT screenplay! This one was called the Monster Maker.

It was about a B-movie horror director (think Roger Corman) who tries to move out of that niche and direct a high budget, expensive movie and finds he needs to go back and rely on his monster making skills to help himself succeed. While Corman is a comparison, the script also clearly had some basis in Lee’s own life. In Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon’s book on Lee, Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book, they show the clear connection between Lee’s life and his script…

At one point in the movie, Larry Morgan tells his ex-wife, Catherine, about his new, meaningful work. She glows with pride: “Larry, you must have known how I always felt about those shallow horror films of yours. I always wondered how you could bring yourself to keep grinding out such juvenile, unintellectual pablum. But now, to think of you tackling a worthwhile theme like pollution — to think of you turning your back on commercialism in order to say something that must be said — Oh, Larry — I can’t tell you how thrilled — how proud of you I am.”


In an amazing 1987 interview with Lee, Pat Jankiewicz got Lee to go into detail about why the film never got made…

In France, they do screenplays differently. In those days, it didn’t cost much to make a movie there, and he had me put in everything but the kitchen sink! He wanted a lot of “big scenes,”so I put them in. We gave it to a producer who liked it and bought it for $25,000. It’s pretty petty now, but it was a lot money then, which I split with Alain! The producer said, “The only thing is, you’re going to have to cut a lot of this stuff out, or I can’t afford to make it,” and my nutty friend Alain said (adapting thick French accent) “Shhtan will not change a word!” – one of these moralistic ideas. It’s like that joke – “Pay him the two bucks!” I said “Alain, I’ll change it, I’ll change it!” “No, you wheel not change a word!” Well, the goddam script is still sitting there, on a shelf somewhere.

Amazingly enough, in both instances, Resnais’ deep respect for the work of his writer collaborators ended up squelching both films. The first screenplay not getting made, though, clearly soured Lee on writing full screenplays when he could just do treatments.

Imagine how Stan Lee would have been viewed differently if he either movie with Alain Resnais had gotten made during the 1970s?

Thanks to Patton, Shurts, Kraft, Raphael, Spurgeon, Jankiewicz and, of course, Stan “The Man” Lee himself, for the information. Be sure to pick up a copy of Jeff McLaughlin’s collection of Lee interviews titled, Stan Lee: Conversations. That’s where I read the Kraft and Jankiewicz interviews. Oh, and thanks to Jay S., Ralph and Samantha for the suggestions over the years that I discuss Lee’s work with Resnais.

1 2 3
Next »


Congratulations and thank you for #300 terrific installments, they are a highlight of my Fridays.

Now, if we can only get the final two answers to A Month of Cover Theme Games…

Interesting how the Adams pages feature Angel and not Kitty. I guess that the plot for GLMK was being worked on a few years before it actually saw print.

And as much as I love GLMK as a graphic novel, Adams’ pages are so much more vibrant and dynamic. It’s a shame he never got to complete the book.

Well that End Times thing makes sense now since the Ultimate Galactus trilogy made ZERO sense.

Typo alert: “So Adams drew six pages and then checked in a couple of weeks later, when Adams told him that he could not get a contract approved for Adams.”

I believe that second “Adams” is supposed to say “Shooter”?

Thanks, Ethan!

Good stuff, Brian! Now I see what has kept you so busy (and the last two Cover Theme Game Answers so unanswered). ;)

Back when I was working for publisher Byron Preiss, I came thisclose to scripting an updated comics version of “The Inmates.”

In 2005, I’d just scripted the first issue of “Stan Lee’s Alexa” (using Stan’s feedback, and very loosely adapting a series of novels titled “Stan Lee’s Riftworld”), and Stan and Byron were pleased with the writing–so much so that when Stan mentioned “The Inmates” as a potential project I was given a shot at it. Got his notes, started working on a new approach…and then Byron died in a car accident, and his company closed not long after.

That was the end of my “Inmates” involvement. And “Alexa”? Well, that’s a whole other complicated story…

The merge is impressive, but the end result just felt very uninspired to me, especially Ultimate Extinction.

Holy cow. I mean, I love God Loves, Man Kills with Anderson, but with Adams art? My mind, it is blown.

Schnitzy Pretzelpants

February 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

“when Adams told him that he could not get a contract approved for Adams”

Brian, great job as always, but think you (obviously) meant to write “When Shooter told him….”

Gotta chime in too and say that I would have loved for Adams’s art to have been the final art on this project.

Not only does his art ‘pop’ off the page, it is so obvious that when given an outline, Adams really saw beyond the conventional and could muster up a myriad of inventive things for the Danger Room.


I love the “Mea Culpa” look on Wolverine’s face trying to get his claws unstuck in order to report to Prof. X in the Adams pages.

Those are some gorgeous pages. I also really like the Prof. “mentally” summoning them with what amounts to a variation of their logotype.

those adams pages are stunning

I would love to see a comic released drawn by two seperate artists. We get alternate covers but I would love to see two artists working from the same script draw an issue and go to the press in a 50.50 format.

An odd silver-age example of the same script being illustrated by two different artists can be found with the Gold Key Mary Poppins movie adaptations. There were two versions done, a short (32 pages) 12 cent one, and a longer (64 pages) 25 cent one; with different artists for each book. For the pages that were in common, the same script was used, but was interpreted slightly differently by each artist. See: http://www.comics.org/series/name/Mary%20Poppins/sort/alpha/

I heard Fellini was a big Stan Lee fan too. I had no idea Resnais was. That’s really interesting.

I heard Fellini was a big Stan Lee fan too. I had no idea Resnais was. That’s really interesting.

Lee joked once that when he met Resnais a few years after he met Fellini, it was already “old hat” to meet famous foreign directors! :)

Those pages are great, but I want to stand up for Anderson. The only things that makes GLMK even possible is the fact that Anderson’s X-men are drawn so realistically. The idea of Prof. X doing a huge superhero-y mindcall in a story so dark and down to earth makes me glad Shooter couldn’t work it out. Adams’ big impressive visuals would have overshadowed the story. Adams is one of the all-time best, but I can’t even believe he wouldn’t agree with how powerful – and thematically and artistically ground-breaking – the finished product eventually turned out. One of the best standalone comics stories ever done, in my opinion.

I remember feeling like the tone of Ultimate Extinction was completely jarring against Nightmare and Secret.

I re-read it about 2 months ago and still feel that way.

That Adams art is amazing!!

>>I would love to see a comic released drawn by two seperate artists.<<

G.I. Joe #60 (penciled by Marshall Rogers):

G.I. Joe Special #1 (penciled by Todd McFarlane):

This is probably the closest you may get to it.

And then of course there was the "Marvel Adventures" imprint – retelling old Stan Lee issues by moderns artists.

Neal Adams is awesome. I never really got to see his stuff until recently and his art is amazing. being someone who clocked into comics in the late 80s I never got to appreciate his work.

I never read a whole lot of the Ultimate stuff. In my opinion, Millar should of stayed on those titles. I wouldn’t have to dislike his writing because of it. ‘I quit’. Woah, brilliant dumb ending to a terrible series. Afterwards some of the Marvel characters became unrecognizable to some of us. Still don’t know who Tony is supposed to be anymore. The Ultimate books was his, he should of stayed there.

Again, Neal Adams is great.

Boy, Stan was always trying to get into the movies. Now he’s been in them, literally.

I loves these comic book urban legend articles they’re great. Happy 300!

Thanks for the Lee/Resnais topic, Brian!!! I’m glad my sugestion was picked!

Neal Adams was so freakin’ awesome..I too loved GLMK, as a 12 year old, it really blew my mind as to what comics could be…I would have loved it even more had it been Neal Adams..I am imagining what those pages would have looked like inked…

Congrats on the milestone!

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

February 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm


“I heard Fellini was a big Stan Lee fan too.”

Federico Fellini was a well known comic book fan. He once wrote a humble fan letter to Jean Giraud (Moebius), where he basically said that he’ll never be a great artist like him.

Also, he wrote two comic books, “Voyage a Tulum” and “Le Voyage de G. Mastorna dit Fernet”, which were both drawn by Milo Manara.

Legend #300?


I can’t believe no one did a joke like this already.
Congrats and long live this column!

I love Adams, but I will have to disagree with the majority oppinion here.

Brent Anderson’s less bombastic, more understated art seems much more fitting for GLMK.


February 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm

“It’s called The Inmates, and it has to do with the whole human race, why we’re on Earth, and what our relationship is with the rest of the Universe. It poses a theory which I hope is a very original, unusual one.”

Almost sort of sounds like Lee was basically writing a Philip K. Dick story a la VALIS, Exegesis, and the Black Iron Prison. Though I can only assume Lee’s version would have involved a lot less “What is reality?” style mindscrew and virtual reality.

Conversely, could maybe draw parallels with Scientology and the idea that Earth is a prison planet…

Of course, I’m only assuming what the story was about based on the name and his comment, but still.

HAPPY 300th Installment! Congratulations and I look forward to seeing tomorrow’s post

Congrats on 300 and Thank you!!!!!!!

I’ve seen those Adams pencils printed before, but I think this is the first I’ve heard that they were for God Loves, Man Kills.

The Adams pages are very impressive but I do agree with Brad that I wouldn’t replace Anderson on that book, There is a distinctly subdued, real-life quality to the art in God Loves that suits the story beautifully and that Adams would have naturally struggled against.
Imagine, though, if Adams instead had agreed to do a special X-Men issue around that time, so that it was him instead of Paul Smith who stepped in for the finale of the Brood War. No slight intended to Mr, Smith, but – just imagine – Adams and Palmer bringing us the Cotati and the final fight on Broodworld. The mind reels.

David Setterlund

February 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I have another Warren Ellis one for you. Me and most at my LCS believe that Warren Ellis reworked an unpublished Excalibur script into Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis. Is there any truth to this?

For anyone that loves those Adams pages and wants printed versions, they’re reprinted in the Marvel Premiere Classics hardcover version of GLMK, which is, I assume, where Brian scanned them from.

Also, I’m really looking forward to whatever Sunday’s Alan Moore legend is, and wondering if it’s the most requested one that Brian alluded to.

For anyone that loves those Adams pages and wants printed versions, they’re reprinted in the Marvel Premiere Classics hardcover version of GLMK, which is, I assume, where Brian scanned them from.

No, actually. That’s awesome. Do you have the hardcover? Is there anything more in there about Adams?

Great post – love the Lee and Adams legends especially – and congratulations on hitting the 300 mark.

Boy how great is Neil Adams? When Wolverine jumps, it looks like a real person jumping.

The Lee Legend was the most interesting, mostly for allowing us a look at how the movie-making process worked way back then.

The Adams Legend wasn’t that interesting, aside from letting us see that great Neal Adams X-Men artwork.

The Ellis one was so uninteresting I didn’t even finish reading it. But that may be just my personal taste.

Grr, I had typed a whole big comment this morning, and it got lost when the site had some problem connecting for me this morning around 6 AM Eastern. Grr.

I’ll rework it later. For now, congrats on 300!

I want to know what the “Pay him the two bucks!” joke was.

Eldric, re: “Pay him the two bucks!” – it would be so cool if it were a reference to the paperboy in “Better Off Dead,” but that’s obviously not the case here.

Happy 300th!

Love Adams, but his style was too overpowering too fit thematically with GLMK. Anderson’s art was the perfect complement to the stark nature of the story.

>>I would love to see a comic released drawn by two seperate artists.<<

"Of Leaders and Lovers," a backup story in Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #241, was originally drawn by guest artists Howard Bender and Rodin Rodriguez. When the story was republished in the original Great Darkness Saga TP, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt (who were the LSH series artists when GDS was originally published) redrew the story. I do a side-by-side comparison of the issues when I teach comic books in first-year composition and multimodal composition.

I was hoping that for #300, you might have a Cerebus related legend. Maybe someday…

Part of the Ellis End Times thing, I thought, was that he felt it HAD to happen by the end of 1999. I thought I had heard that Marvel maybe changed their mind after telling him no, but by then, he felt it was too late to get it up and running in time. I could be wrong.

The Neal Adams legend is interesting, as the notion that Adams would have been the artist on what was a fairly high profile book, and how he might have overpowered it. The contract part is interesting too. Didn’t the X2 movie take elements from GLMK? I wonder how that might have worked had Neal gotten the non-work made for hire contract he wanted, and had done GLMK. What is crappy is that Shooter told Adams to start work even though he had secured the contract that Neal wanted (of course, it’s kind of dumb to do so, especially since Neal was as big a name as he was/is, and he also was the one instrumental in getting more recognition and money for Siegel and Shuster. He should have known working without a contract was a dicey proposition.). I have to assume that Shooter was OVER confident that he could get the contract that Adams wanted, and therefore just promised something he should have, not that he was working maliciously, hoping that once Adams started, he’d figure he’d want to keep going with a less than advantageous contract.

I mostly wanted to post about Stan and Resnais. I watched the Criterion Collection version of Last Year in Marienbad, um, last year, and thought it was an amazing movie. What was cool, though, and I had intended to email you about it, Brian, is that there are bits that show Resnais to be a comics fan. I can’t find the notes I made for myself, but working from memory… In an interview on the supplemental material disc, he discusses how he was a fan of the comic strip the Phantom (iirc, there are pictures of him meeting Lee Falk), and how he subconsciously worked in imagery from a Phantom strip with the courtyard scene with the sculpted trees (they show a panel from a strip with very similar imagery). What was MORE interesting was a documentary that Resnais had made about the national French library. I assume (can’t remember) it was commissioned by the library, and includes a part about how by French law, all periodicals and books published in France must have a copy sent to the library. It talks about how an early Rimbaud work was discovered in an old publication in the library, and goes on to show a number of comics magazines (including one featuring the Phantom), saying something to the effect of “perhaps the future will appreciate some of these works more”. It was quite cool to see.

I do have to question the notion of Resnais treating the script as sacrosanct. The name of the writer who scripted Marienbad escapes me, but I know there were changes made to the script. It’s mentioned in supplemental docs and the book in the package. Resnais cut a rape scene, and I believe also changed some dialogue, perhaps. I think, maybe, that the point was made that this was NOT the usual Resnais method, but I’m not 100% on that one.

But yeah, the narration in Marienbad is strange and poetic, and someone should try adapting the style of the movie to comics. It’d be an interesting thing to see. And the idea of Stan the Man working with Resnais is so odd.

Hopefully this one will post this morning…

As gorgeous as parts of GLMK are, that unused Adams art is fantastic! I’d have loved to see what he made of the story.

Congrats on 300 Brian! Keep up the great work.

[…] Alain Resnais and Stan Lee. Films and Filming. July 1973. Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditTwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in cinema, context. Bookmark the permalink. ← goldfinger […]

Read my comment on the AOL webpage under “Alain Resnais dies”.

[…] That lead to a treatment, which Lee described to the Marvel in-house fan magazine F.O.O.M.! (via CBR): […]

[…] That lead to a treatment, which Lee described to the Marvel in-house fan magazine F.O.O.M.! (via CBR): […]

[…] That lead to a treatment, which Lee described to the Marvel in-house fan magazine F.O.O.M.! (via CBR): […]

[…] That lead to a treatment, which Lee described to the Marvel in-house fan magazine F.O.O.M.! (via CBR): […]

[…] Slashfilm/L’Express/The Crimson/Good Comics/Film de Culte/Stan Lee Universe Magazine/ Stan Lee: Conversations, edited by Jeff […]

“he was/is, and he also was the one instrumental in getting more recognition and money for Siegel and Shuster. He should have known working without a contract was a dicey proposition.”

That’s why he had asked and was waiting for a better deal (than ‘work for hire’) to be contracted for him.
It does suck, though, that he never got paid for the work Shooter told him to start.

Hey, I really wanna see The Inmates now!

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives