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The Who’s Unfinished Rock Opera ‘Lifehouse’ Gets Graphic Novel (EXCLUSIVE)

Pete Townshend
Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Sci-fi fantasy magazine Heavy Metal and Pete Townshend are partnering on the Who’s uncompleted rock opera “Lifehouse” for a graphic novel, with an eye to developing a movie and television projects.

“Lifehouse,” which had originally been planned as a movie for Universal in 1970, will be published in July, 2020, as a 150-page graphic novel based on Townshend’s screenplay and music. It will be written and illustrated by James Harvey. Parts of “Lifehouse” ended up on the album “Who’s Next,” including the songs “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Baba O’Riley.” Townshend released a version of “Lifehouse” performed by himself in 1999.

The graphic novel is set in a dystopian world that relates to today’s themes of politics, global warming, and technological reliance. Harvey’s “Little Nemo” adaptations were part of a multiple-Eisner Award-winning anthology.

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

Townshend said, “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.”

Townshend explained that he had been in art school before starting the Who in 1964, but wasn’t able to engage in visual storytelling.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Krelitz said, “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.”

See the cover of the graphic novel below.

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Courtesy of Heavy Metal