Variety reports Heavy Metal magazine will publish “Lifehouse,” a graphic novel based on the unproduced sci-fi rock opera by The Who. Originally written as a screenplay by lead guitarist Pete Townshend in 1970, “Lifehouse” is set in a collapsing world where people wear Lifesuits to simulate a normal life, and rock ‘n’ roll has disappeared – but then word emerges of the titular rock concert in London. Writer/artist James Harvey (“Mouth Baby”) will adapt the script as a 150-page comic, which will be released in July 2020.
Townshend commented, “A graphic novel based on my very first 1970 concept for The Who’s abandoned ‘Lifehouse’ project is perhaps the most exciting creative development in my long career. ‘Lifehouse’ always had a strong and important visual story that was never even touched on. Even by 1971 when ‘Lifehouse’ was written, it had to be treated as a film script, which was entirely beyond my skill set, and beyond the financial scope of The Who. If I had completed my art studies, instead of staying with The Who, I might have made my own graphic novels. I am excited then, with huge anticipation, that at last ‘Lifehouse’ can be realized visually, and as a story – part science fiction, part spiritual allegory.”
Heavy Metal CEO Jeff Krelitz stated, “Pete Townshend is a master storyteller in musical arts. His music changed the way the world views rock ‘n’ roll. After a 50-year wait, Heavy Metal is excited to help him realize his vision with this timeless story.” He also said “Harvey’s storytelling, an infusion of graphic design, mod and Japanese styles, exactly fit what we were looking for.”
Originally intended as the follow-up to their 1969 concept album Tommy, “Lifehouse” was abandoned in favor of the band’s 1971 Who’s Next, which used several planned songs like “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Baba O’Riley.” Townshend also adapted his screenplay into a 1999 BBC radio play, which was included on the following year’s solo box set Lifehouse Chronicles.