By Johanna Draper Carlson
Image Comics has announced the year-end release of a prestige project sure to be of interest to rock fans. Pete Townshend’s Life House is an album-sized (12.25″ x 12.25″) hardcover graphic novel based on the rock opera, 1970 screenplay, and related materials. That work inspired The Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next.
The graphic novelization is co-written by James Harvey (Doom Patrol) and David Hine (Spider-Man Noir) with art by Harvey and Max Prentis, inks by Mick Gray, colors by Prentis, Shari Chankhamma, and Carlos Badilla, and lettering by Michah Myers.
Per the press release, the story is “set in a dystopian future where music has been outlawed [and] follows a small band of rebels who stage an underground concert in an effort to undermine a tyrannical leader… and free Britain and all of humanity from a grisly fate.”
What the press release doesn’t say is that, for the right amount of money ($300 or so), you can read this graphic novel now. Pete Townshend’s Life House was one of the bonus items included in the Super Deluxe Edition of Who’s Next / Life House put out earlier this year. It’s a very nice set, with 10 CDs, a Blu-ray Audio, a hardback book with photos and background material about the Who’s Next album, and various poster and program reproductions, in addition to the 172-page Life House graphic novel, overseen by Townshend.
The re-release is due out on Dec. 5 in bookstores as either a hardcover ($49.99 list price) or hardcover with slipcase ($74.99 list price), and it’s coming to comic stores on December 6.
The following quotes were part of the press release.
“Life House has always needed a story that makes sense but without the egos of new creatives who think they can ‘fix’ what was wrong with my first draft,” said Townshend. “The graphic novel is built around that first draft written prior to recording sessions and workshops at the Young Vic in 1971. A second draft with some good ideas from Roger in 1976 added some cohesion and more exciting collateral which really suits the comic format. The art is beautiful and dense, colourful of course and engaging. The artists and their team have made an amazing and hugely collectible piece that adds depth and clarity to an otherwise complex story. I’m delighted with the comic. Life House is reborn!”
“Growing up, The Who were one of my favorite bands, and Who’s Next definitely loomed large in their discography as a major touchstone. From Tommy to Who’s Next to Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend has always not only distinguished himself as one of rock’s most ambitious songwriters but also a natural storyteller, so it’s both a pleasure and a thrill to see one of his most legendary projects take on a new life as a graphic novel,” said Eric Stephenson, Publisher and Chief Creative Officer at Image Comics. “Anyone who has been a fan of Pete and ‘The Who’ for as long as I have is well-versed in the history of Life House and how it became Who’s Next, so helping to finally get Pete’s story into people’s hands is nothing short of incredible.”
“Helping Pete to advance his epic vision for Life House has been a dream come true,” said Jeff Krelitz, CEO of RockBox Studios. “Assembling and working with a team of unbelievably talented creators to help bring this project to life has been even more rewarding. If you’re a fan of The Who, or even just a fan of great science fiction, you’ll find a new home in Pete Townshend’s Life House.”
Originally envisioned as a sci-fi rock epic to follow up The Who’s rock opera, Tommy, and put aside 50 years ago — in favor of releasing some of the project’s songs on Who’s Next like “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Behind Blue Eyes” — Pete Townshend’s Life House will finally take center stage.
Hine added: “Working on Life House has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career in comics. The challenge was to finally realize Pete Townshend’s visionary story of a sound that transcends human fallibility and unifies all human consciousness, and along the way to create a page-turning thriller with mind-blowing visuals. The artists on this book have performed like your dream supergroup.”
“Being part of the creation of such a prolific comic has been exciting and challenging,” said Prentis. “This is my first comic I’ve worked on, so it was a steep learning curve; it was truly being thrown in the deep end, but with the experience of Mick, Hannah, and David, it felt like a swim. Making and finishing a part of Pete’s original idea from five decades ago and being part of such a monumental piece has made me feel we’ve really accomplished something big here.”
Pete Townshend’s Life House releases Dec. 5.