While The Who are generally recognized as the band that brought the concept of the rock opera to the mainstream with its 1969 double album and accompanying film Tommy, its planned follow-up Lifehouse has never fully seen the light of day... until now.
Originally planned for release as a concept album in 1971 to also be adapted into a feature film before being later cancelled, Lifehouse will be adapted as a graphic novel written and illustrated by James Harvey (Little Nemo) and published through Heavy Metal magazine.
"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," declared Townshend in an interview with Variety. "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.”
Set in a dystopian vision of the future with relevant political themes including climate change and an over-reliance on technology, elements of the cancelled album would resurface on The Who's next album, Who's Next. Harvey's upcoming graphic novel will feature the complete rock opera in a 150-page story out next year.
"Harvey’s storytelling, an infusion of graphic design, mod and Japanese styles, exactly fit what we were looking for,” explained Heavy Metal CEO Jeff Krelitz. "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 realize his vision with this timeless story.”
Here's the cover for the graphic novel, which was originally provided to Variety.
Based on the unfinished rock opera of the same name by The Who's Pete Townshend, Lifehouse is written and illustrated by James Harvey. It will be released by Heavy Metal in July 2020.