The Bad Doctor

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220

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED

June 2014

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“Ian Williams is the best thing to happen to medicine since penicillin.” – Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?

Cartoonist and doctor Ian Williams introduces us to the troubled life of Dr Iwan James, as all humanity, it seems, passes through his surgery door.

Incontinent old ladies, men with eagle tattoos, traumatised widowers – Iwan’s patients cause him both empathy and dismay, as he tries to do his best in a world of limited time and budgetary constraints, and in which there are no easy answers. His feelings for his partners also cause him grief: something more than friendship for the sympathetic Dr Lois Pritchard, and not a little frustration at the prankish and obstructive Dr Robert Smith.

Iwan’s cycling trips with his friend Arthur provide some welcome relief, but even the landscape is imbued with his patients’ distress. As we explore the phantoms from Iwan’s past, we too begin to feel compassion for the Bad Doctor, and ask what is the dividing line between patient and provider?

Wry, comic, graphic, from the humdrum to the tragic, his patients’ stories are the spokes that make Iwan’s wheels go round in this humane and eloquently drawn account of a doctor’s life.

An extract from
The Bad Doctor was shortlisted for the First Graphic Novel Competition 2012.

“This unputdownable graphic novel, like all great literature, makes you feel slightly less alone. With a lightness of touch, Ian Williams gently points out what’s under our noses but what we might not yet have managed to articulate. It shows us — through good observation and by being funny — how the ordinary is extraordinary.” – Philippa Perry, author of
Couch Fiction and How to Stay Sane

“Ian Williams, with this book, is my hero and I wish he were my doctor, too! He puts his own head on the chopping block figuratively and – through his pictures, often literally – in this skillfully told, relentlessly honest, often funny and – obviously – painfully true book. This is courageous work. It undercuts the accepted nonsense that doctors are – or should be expected to be – seraphic beings, exalted above the rest of humanity. As Williams mercilessly probes his own psyche, it becomes clear that this is the path to forbearance with his patients. The kind of probity found in these pages is possible only through relentless self-examination. The kinds of human distress it shows – both inside and out of the office – results for the reader in a happy release. For we are a lonely race, and full disclosure through this kind of art is our only liberation. I predict this will become an important book, not just in the medical community – where it should be read by each and every student and practicing professional out there – but in the larger world as well.” – David Small, author of
Stitches

“[Ian Williams] speaks brilliantly and honestly … about the unseemly side of medicine: the patients doctors do not like, the fears of making mistakes and the challenges of maintaining a balanced life. He accomplishes this feat by showing rather than telling, and in doing so, wades into emotional terrain that is at once discomforting and exhilarating.” – BMJ Medical Humanities

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REVIEWS

Bryan Talbot

•Author of Grandville

“Gentle, thoughtful, humorous, and with a real light touch: I enjoyed the different stories, the well-realised world it created and, like any good fiction, the view of another internal life.”

Forbidden Planet

•Comics retailer

“Perfectly illustrates just what the modern GP is faced with on a daily basis ... The sympathetic, empathetic ear of Iwan is only possible of course due to the excellent and understanding writing of Williams, capturing the often strange, sometimes sad, occasionally ridiculous nature of mental illness ... The Bad Doctor joins an illustrious list of comics that not only entertain, but educate, inform and possibly change attitudes.”

The Independent

•British newspaper

“Williams' vignettes of Welsh small-town life concern Dr Iwan James and the community of pensioners, obsessive compulsives and gun-nuts who visit his surgery. It's a kind of pastoral with mid-life crisis, deep and droll ... Iwan is sympathetic and empathetic, so why is the title The Bad Doctor? Read it and find out.”