A humane, moving and often very funny graphic novel about the life of a country doctor and those of his patients, cartoonist and doctor Ian Williams introduces us to Dr Iwan James: cyclist, doctor, would-be lover, former heavy metal fan and, above all, human being.
Weighed down by his responsibilities – from diagnosing personality disorders to deciding who can hold a gun licence – Iwan doubts his ability to make decisions about the lives of others when he may need more than a little help himself.
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, as all humanity, it seems, passes through his surgery door.
Ian Williams is the author of Sick Notes, a weekly comic strip in The Guardian about the state of the NHS. The Bad Doctor was highly commended in the Primary Healthcare category of the British Medical Association Medical Books Awards 2015. His latest graphic novel, The Lady Doctor, was published by Myriad in January 2019.