Comic Book Reviews: Many Happy Returns Parts one and two by Jan Wheatly

Comic Book Reviews: Many Happy Returns Parts one and two by Jan Wheatly

Two great stonking reads picked up at Orbital Comics this weekend.

Jan Wheatly’s Many Happy Returns parts one and two charts the story of Natalie as she journeys through the seventies and the eighties, from young girl to teenager.

Each part presents an extended vignette about some aspect of Natalie’s life. In part one we’re introduced to her family and the relationship Natalie has with her brother Jason.

The backdrop to the story centres around the family going out for the day as they celebrate both Natalie’s and Jason’s birthday, unaware of the ensuing drama that is about to unfold.

What hooked me about part one was the attention to detail made in bringing the era to life. From the fashion to the language to the shapes of the car, you feel your firmly planted in the seventies. What kept me reading on was the honest characterisation of a family.

When an argument breaks out you feel the awkwardness as well as the laughs when the kids get a bit too honest.

A side plot builds the tension and gently weaves menace into what should be just an ordinary day. You feel the ending in part 1 because you believe in the characters and that’s what gives it its punch.

Flash forward a few years into the 1980s and we’re given a snapshot into Natalie’s teenage years as we catch up with her in class. Part two’s vignette perfectly characterises the interplay between students and teachers and students and students. Wheatly manages to set several plates spinning by charting the complex and understated relationships between characters that makes the story bubble and dance.

You can pick up Many Happy Returns parts one and two direct from the author’s website.

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