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The Who's abandoned 'Lifehouse' rock opera to be released as graphic novel


Lifehouse, the abandoned science fiction rock opera by the Who, is to be released as a graphic novel.

The project, which was scrapped after Pete Townshend and Co. decided to create a traditional rock album instead, began as a story written around several songs. According to Pete Townshend: “The essence of the story-line was a kind a futuristic scene…It’s a fantasy set at a time when rock ’n’ roll didn’t exist. The world was completely collapsing and the only experience that anybody ever had was through test tubes. In a way they lived as if they were in television programmes. Everything was programmed. The enemies were people who gave us entertainment intravenously, and the heroes were savages who’d kept rock ‘n’ roll as a primitive force and had gone to live with it in the woods. The story was about these two sides coming together and having a brief battle.”

Now, Townshend has teamed up with Heavy Metal magazine to finally release the project. The difference, of course, is that the production has been reworked into 150-page graphic novel will be written and illustrated by Eisner-award winner James Harvey.

“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,” Townshend announced. “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,” Townshend continued. “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, added:“Harvey’s storytelling, an infusion of graphic design, mod and Japanese styles, exactly fit what we were looking for.”

He continued: “Pete Townsend 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 realise his vision with this timeless story.”

The project will be published in July, 2020.