Also by this author

The Bad Doctor

The Troubled Life and Times of Dr Iwan James
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Highly Commended   —British Medical Association Book Award: Primary Health Care Category2015

Shortlisted   —Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize2015

Longlisted   —British Comic Awards – Best Book2014

Longlisted   —British Comic Awards – Emerging Talent2014

Best Graphic Novels   —Sequential2014

Longlisted   —First Graphic Novel Competition2012

'The territory of doctor as patient has been visited before, but Dr. Williams’s iteration and its resolution are as subtle and thought provoking as the best of them.'—New York Times

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.

Zona Negativa

29 January 2021

This year 2020 has hit us. We have seen the seams to our political, social and health system. The most intimate miseries of the human species have come to light in a traumatic way. We were not prepared for a health crisis of such magnitude.

Now, good things have also happened, only on the cultural level we have that Emma Ríos has won an Eisner Prize for the cover of the third volume of Bella Muerta and Paco Roca has done it for La Casa . South Korean Parasites has become the first foreign-language film to win the Oscar for best picture.

As a doctor, I think one of the good things this whole situation has had is that society is a little more aware of its own health. Perhaps we have managed to empower ourselves a little in the face of our own illness.

But, the year 2020 should also be remembered as the year in which the first Spanish publishing house dedicated exclusively to graphic medicine was born: SaludArte Ediciones . The publisher had to launch its first license on the market in April, but given the global situation that shook the entire publishing market, they had to wait until June to launch A Bad Doctor by Ian Williams .

A bad doctor invites us to meet Dr. Iwan James. Through his experiences as a primary care physician and the experiences of his patients, Iwan is able to show us the best and the worst side of medicine. When healthcare professionals and the system itself are capable of helping patients, but also when they fail. We will also meet Lois and Robert, two co-workers, Arthur a good friend of his with whom he shares a love for cycling, and Carole, his wife. Thanks to all this cast of secondary, we will delve into the demons of Dr. Iwan. Being a doctor does not make you immune to disease and his is the best example.

A Bad Doctor is a bicolor white and gray comic. With a simple, but direct and clear line, Ian Williams portrays his characters, animals and environments in a realistic and non-cartoonish way. At the narrative level, the Welshman renounces sequential narration to propose a series of time jumps that allow us to better understand our protagonist. In addition, the patient “cases” that Dr. James will see in his practice are resolved over several visits, just like in real life. In this way, Williams realistically translates what a primary care consultation is and, at the same time, surprises us by turning some secondary ones into recurrent ones.

But what is it to be a good or a bad doctor? I don't know, but Dr. Iwan teaches us that being a person with a mental illness, with doubts and concerns, makes you a more empathetic doctor. Closer and more humane. Sometimes, Dr. Iwan (and his colleagues) make mistakes, and this is what a bad doctor shows us , but error is also human and does not make us worse professionals. In the end, being a good doctor is simply trying to be a good person.

If a bad doctor and graphic medicine in general have caught your attention, you are in luck since in recent months several titles have been published that would fall into this category. This October, from Bilbao and from the hand of Astiberri, we have received María Habla from the Argentine author Bef, who delves into the paternal-child relationship between Bef himself and his daughter with autism María; and The Two Lives of Penelope by Judith Vanistendael, which portrays the life of a surgeon who has just returned home from a humanitarian mission. Also, next month we will be able to read the expectedSomething strange happened to me on the way home from Miguel Gallardo which explains his experience with brain cancer among the covid pandemic. For its part, Norma Editorial will publish in December The incredible history of medicine by Jean-Noël Fabiani and Fhilippe Bercovici, which reviews the great milestones in the history of medicine.

Also about cancer, although this time about lung, he deals with Mom's cancer where Brian Fies explains how his mother's cancer lived. Comic for which he won the Eisner prize for the best digital comic in 2005 and which has just gone on sale in Spanish by SaludArte . We have already been able to read it and we find it a delight. In addition, some of the upcoming licenses of this publisher can already be consulted on its website , among them the series La Adoption made up of two volumes ( Quinaya and La Garúa ) by Zidrou stands out., one of the most important screenwriters in the last decade in the Franco-Belgian market and from which we have been able to read his works such as Shi , A Spirou adventure. The light of Borneo or Rosko .

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New York Times

30 June 2015

The territory of doctor as patient has been visited before, but Dr. Williams’s iteration and its resolution are as subtle and thought provoking as the best of them, with the always worthwhile message that the roles into which humans sort themselves are as mutable as the rituals they accept and reject, and the calls for help they choose to hear or not.

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Publishers Weekly

4 May 2015

These warm yet disturbing episodes in the life of a Welsh family doctor show that he’s not a bad doctor, just one burdened by an overactive sense of responsibility. When he was younger, his OCD kept him in agony that he might be guilty if anything awful happened to his parents, friends, pets, etc.; now, as a married middle-aged physician, he wonders if he is giving his patients the correct treatment and the human concern they need. Meanwhile he’s wistfully longing for the pretty young doctor in the office to notice him, and worrying about paying for another bike for the rides that give him a brief escape from his feelings of inadequacy. None of this sounds especially funny, but the overall effect is gently amusing. Williams, a doctor himself, has previously edited anthologies fusing comics and medicine, and here his sharply observed, sympathetic scenes, done in an appropriately sketched style, add up to a richly humane picture of a good man who can’t appreciate how good he is.

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Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

21 July 2014

Replete with sometimes delicate, sometimes explicit observations about the foibles of human nature and the bureaucracy of healthcare, The Bad Doctor combines wickedly black humour with subtle characterisation that never fails to engage the audience’s empathy. Graphic medicine with true heart, this is a testament to the value of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition in nurturing exciting new creative voices, and a most impressively crafted long form debut from Ian Williams.

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Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet

16 June 2014

Williams’ really enjoyable and incisive graphic novel... 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 tells of an ordinary life and that’s rather the point. The troubles in The Bad Doctor aren’t out of the ordinary, aren’t necessarily life-destroying, they’re things that can be treated, can be relieved, but only when we have the courage to face up to them. More and more, books that deal with the subject are doing away with the stigma traditionally associated with mental health issues. The Bad Doctor is the latest of these, and joins an illustrious list of comics that not only entertain, but educate, inform and possibly change attitudes.

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14 June 2014

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.

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Dr. Paddy Barrett, The Doctor

I can’t recommend [The Bad Doctor] highly enough… I laughed out loud, there are so many candid moments of being a doctor that will resonate… that are just so brilliant. There is a hero-culture within medicine. I would applaud you for shining a light on this topic [OCD]… incredibly engaging.

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Dr Ronan Kavanagh

A beautiful book about the practice of medicine and about how being vulnerable is OK. [Iwan James] is just this flawed, human being like the rest of us, who's doing his best. It's my favourite book about medicine in recents years.

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Euan Lawson, British Journal of General Practice

The graphic novel format offers a richness and depth to this tale; it is a tribute to Williams’ skills that I can’t imagine reading simple prose on this topic. A short essay on burnout wouldn’t have the same effect. A paper on ‘doctors in difficulty’ wouldn’t linger in the mind the way Iwan’s struggles do. More than anything, Iwan James, ‘Bad Doctor’, turns out to be, like all of us, a perfectly normal doctor. In other words just a perfectly normal human being. There is much in this reflective graphic novel to help us all reconcile the personal and professional.

Deborah Bowman, The Conversation

Medicine is a visual discipline and so it is perhaps unsurprising that comics about illness and its treatment are increasingly popular.

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Dr Ian Fussell, BMJ Medical Humanities

'It was impossible not to love this book. Ian Williams has possibly written a future classic, which must surely be added to the curriculum of all GP training schemes and might even help our leaders explain what GPs actually do. Ian, let’s have some more.' 

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Dr Michael Green

He demystifies and humanises the experience of doctoring and shows us what is 'behind the curtain', so to speak... It’s a really valuable contribution to our understanding of what it means to be a doctor.

Bryan Talbot

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.

New Welsh Review

As an antidote to the stresses and strains of modern life where the medical profession is still expected to cure all, The Bad Doctor is a warm, witty and undemanding read and Dr Iwan, with his self-doubt, superstitions and occasional profanity, is a well-observed and engaging Everyman.

David Small

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.

Cycle Active

No, not a book about an unscrupulous pro team medic. In fact, this charming graphic novel – I.e. it’s a long comic book – is about Iwan James, a GP and keen cyclist who uses his rides with his friend Arthur to make some sense of the world.  Touching and funny in equal measure.

Dr Emma Watts, PULSE

Half an hour into this brilliant graphic novel, my husband complained that my chortling and smirking was putting him off his film. From the outset the cartoon depictions of the frustrations of general practice struck a chord with me, and the tiny details within the pictures only added to my amusement. As we get to know more about the darker side of the lead character, Dr Iwan James, the author’s talent at transcribing themes through his artwork becomes very clear. Any GP will recognize the heartsink patients and the partnership issues in the book, and will be willing it to end well for Dr James. I loved it – a great antidote to a bad day at work.

Broken Frontier: Comic of the week

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.

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Viva Brighton

Captures the ennui and helplessness of middle age with painful, hilarious clarity.

Philippa Perry

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.

Bad Doctor cover

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