Review: The Lady Doctor (Myriad Editions)

The Lady Doctor is our first foray into the world of books from Myriad Editions and we are hoping it won’t be our last. Ian Williams’ latest is the follow up to his previous The Bad Doctor and continues to mix outlandishly funny tales about life in the NHS with an undercurrent of real emotional pathos, that reminds us how human these doctors who treat us, really are.

Publisher: Myriad Editions
Writer: Ian Williams
Artist: Ian Williams
Price: £14.99 from the Myriad Editions Store

The Lady Doctor in question is Lois, a GP from the Llangandida Health Centre in Wales, who also works in the local sexual health clinic. Both these occupations lead her into contact with a variety of larger-than-life characters, such as a prescription drug seeking guest house owner or a local lothario, as well as her own quirky colleagues in the medical profession. While this provides ample opportunity for the kind of outrageous medical tales we love to hear told, the real meat of the story revolves around Lois’ estranged mother reappearing out of the blue, in order to ask her for help with a liver transplant.

This arrival, brings to the surface years of angst about her mother leaving and also reminds us that Lois is not just a doctor but a person with their own issues and trouble to look after too. This discovery leads Lois on a journey of self discovery which sees her confronted with her own ethical and moral dilemmas about drug use, patient relations and of course brings into sharp focus her relationship with her mother.

The Lady Doctor has that classic English graphic novel feel we love in the work of Posy Simmonds, or more recently books like Mann’s Best Friend. It lilts and meanders along at a very careful pace, allowing the characters and dialogue to shine and also draw you in to the action. It’s a hefty book, that looks more like a prose novel when placed on your book shelf, but it is definitely a real page turner. There aren’t any real histrionics or jaw dropping moments, but that’s not to say it’s without drama, instead the story builds quietly and confidently with a natural ebb and flow like a conversation between old friends. 

Williams does double duty on this book and, like the story, the artwork is relatively simple but packed with hidden depths. While much of it is talking heads in a treatment room or pub, he allows himself to really cut loose in a few places, either by using a technique of building up lots of detail in a quiet moment (similar to Jon McNaught’s excellent Kingdom) or with an all out series of colourful pages in the final third which are required to showcase an altered mental state and work to perfection.

While it might not have the quirky cool of some small press books, The Lady Doctor is a thoroughly absorbing read that benefits from not being flashy or faddy. Instead it relies on solidly realised and beautifully crafted characters who drive the story along and make it both very entertaining and also rather thought-provoking too. Instead of being all style and no substance it is very real and so very relatable and we will definitely be making a repeat appointment for any and all future books from Ian Williams as this is definitely a book which is worth the prescription.