The Who’s ‘Lifehouse’ is Getting a Graphic Novel

After almost 60 years, The Who are currently preparing for what might be their final tour. Now, guitarist Pete Townshend is revisiting an obscure project from the band’s past. Via Variety, Townshend is teaming up with the sci-fi/fantasy magazine Heavy Metal to produce a graphic novel version of Lifehouse, a rock opera that never saw the light of day.

Townshend originally conceived Lifehouse as a follow up to The Who’s previous rock opera, 1969’s Tommy. The album envisioned a dystopian future where incessant pollution forces humanity to wear Lifesuits at all times. The Lifesuits keep everyone in check by plugging them into a Matrix-esque computer mainframe called The Grid. A government official named Jumbo controls The Grid and supplies its inhabitants with food, sleeping gas, and entertainment. The band ultimately shelved the record in favor of 1971’s Who’s Next. The band used a few of their abandoned songs in Who’s Next?, their followup album. However, this is the first time that Lifehouse will see the light of day. It’s also a unique opportunity to see Townshend’s storytelling skills outside of music.

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“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,” said Townshend. “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.”

Townshend and Heavy Metal are assigning Lifehouse to writer and artist James Harvey. Previously, Harvey worked on Bartkira and his original graphic novel, Mouth Baby. According to Heavy Metal CEO Jeff Krelitz, Harvey is the ideal candidate to bring Townshend’s vision to life.

“Harvey’s storytelling, an infusion of graphic design, mod and Japanese styles, exactly fit what we were looking for,” said Krelitz. “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.”

Lifehouse will hit shelves in July 2020. You can check out the book’s cover below.  Which Who songs do you want to see turned into stories? Should Tommy also get a graphic novel? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section!