Jan Wheatley started this as a movie project, but lucky for us it got stalled and she decided to turn it into a comics serial.
Many Happy Returns is the story of Natalie Turner, a teenager growing up in an Essex "new town" during the early 80s.
Troubled by the social injustice and economic hardship brought about by the effects of Margaret Thatcher's policies, Natalie also battles with an ever present inability to cope with a family tragedy that happened in 1976, something her whole family failed to come to terms with.
Increasingly alienated from the world, Natalie's only solace is a room full of vinyl records and a pair of headphones; her only friends are complete strangers who repeat the same songs night after night.
The attention Natalie receives from Darren Adams, an enigmatic new boy at school, encourages her to make a connection with a real person at last, and start to confront her troubled past.
Through their shared love of music, Darren and Natalie's relationship begins as first love often does… tender and full of promise.
However, neither of them can avoid the cynicism of their environment, the complications of their circumstances or the turbulence of the times. Misunderstandings and fragile egos turn first love on its head, forcing them both to deal with very grown-up feelings.
"Brilliantly teases out the tensions and expectations as elements of an impending tragedy conspire and converge on an ordinary English street scene."
On a beautiful April morning, at the start of the long, hot summer of 1976, Brenda and Stan Turner joke about the different temperaments of their eight-year-old twins Natalie and Jason (Natalie being the antithesis to Jason the angel).
When Jason is knocked down by a police car, Brenda (confused by her own feelings of guilt and shame at favouring Jason) projects blame onto her 16-year-old son Sean, and Natalie.
Time doesn't heal for the Turner family, and a year later they are completely consumed and defined by their tragedy.
MHR1 is 26 pages and uses high-quality gloss paper. It comes in large (A4) and small (A5) sizes. Orders ship from the UK to anywhere in the world!
"Having read a preview of Part Two, I can assure you it's as good as, if not better than, her first."
It's April 1982, and Natalie's 14th birthday passes without celebration, just like the previous five. Stunted by guilt and grief, Natalie has been in an emotional coma, self-medicating with a daily dose of music to ease the pain of loneliness.
Struggling to fit in, she maintains tenuous relationships with her school friends, but is all too aware that even her best friend, Debbie Ferguson, exploits her weaknesses to highlight her own superficial strengths.
Everyone assumes that the new boy, Darren Adams, is attracted to Debbie. But Darren has had to deal with knee-jerk reactions and instant judgments all his life, so he sees through Debbie's facade instantly. What he doesn't understand is why Natalie, infinitely more attractive and interesting, is playing second fiddle to someone so shallow.
MHR2 is 26 pages and uses high-quality gloss paper. It comes in large (A4) and small (A5) sizes. Orders ship from the UK to anywhere in the world!
You can also buy Many Happy Returns at Orbital Comics (London).
Part 3 of Many Happy Returns is due to be released in Spring 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: Many Happy Returns contains strong language and deals with adult themes.