Robert Wells - Back, Sack & Crack (& Brain) - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781472136756
    • Publication date:29 Jun 2017

Back, Sack & Crack (& Brain)

A Rather Graphic Novel About Living With Embarrassing Health Problems

By Robert Wells

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A graphic novel about chronic pain, mental health complications and mixed experiences of the medical profession from a talented comic book artist who turns years of agony and poor medical management into an hilarious and shockingly frank tale.

A story that brings tears to your eyes, in more ways than one. It touches you so much you it makes you want to cross your legs in sympathy - Nev Fountain, writer at Dead Ringers, author of Painkiller

Rob Wells has spent much of his adult life coping with chronic pain of different kinds - an embarrassing bowel problem in his early 20s, recurring testicular pain in his late 20s and 30s, and back problems requiring spinal surgery in his early 40s. Consistent through these experiences has been a feeling of being passed from pillar to post by the medical community, seemingly at a loss to explain the cause of these issues, or to find a lasting solution for them.

This hilarious and brutally frank graphic memoir tells Rob's story, taking us through emergency surgery for a misdiagnosed twisted testicle, the extremes of weight loss and weight gain, the insides of far too many public toilets, and having to resort to walking with a cane. As Rob's back, sack and crack all became causes for concern so too did his brain, as his recurring problems unsurprisingly left him with depression and agoraphobia.

This is the warm and witty story of a man's battle with his own body, and with the medical industry that couldn't quite appreciate the problem. For anyone who has ever felt let down by their doctors, or who has suffered with chronic pain that shows no sign of subsiding, Rob Wells bravely invites you to really get to grips with his balls.

Biographical Notes

Robert Wells is a writer, cartoonist and illustrator. He has written and drawn numerous comics including Crisp Biscuit, Crisp and Colin Comix, and is the artist of Department of the Peculiar (with writer Rol Hirst). He has produced illustrations for magazines such as Metal Hammer, Total Film and MusicTech. The first 15 pages of Back, Sack & Crack (& Brain) were short-listed for the 2014 Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize.

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  • ISBN: 9781472136763
  • Publication date: 29 Jun 2017
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: Robinson
A story that brings tears to your eyes, in more ways than one. It touches you so much you it makes you want to cross your legs in sympathy — Nev Fountain, writer at Dead Ringers, author of Painkiller
An honest, funny, graphic story of one man's journey with chronic pain and disappointing dealings with health professionals. As a GP who is often frustrated by the limitations of modern medicine to help patients with unexplained symptoms, it's a painful but important story to hear — Dr Graham Easton, author of The Appointment
A graphic (and graphic) memoir about [Wells'] various chronic, often undiagnosable problems, with a strong theme of scrotal misadventure and utterly unhelpful medical staff. It's funny, and as awful as Wells' experience is, that societally speaking men are particularly bad at talking of any of this stuff makes me glad to see it out there. And, I stress, this is funny. This is filed under "you will enjoy it" rather than "you will feel better about yourself having read it." Think of it as broccoli - good for you, yet also delicious, and I will fight you if you don't like broccoli. - Kieron Gillen, author, The Wicked + The Divine, Invincible Iron Man and Star Wars: Darth Vader.
Wells captures the relentless pain and frustrations of living with a long term chronic medical condition and does so with humour. This is a must read for those who have, are close to, or work with ongoing health concerns — Nicola Streeten, author of Billy, Me & You
A hoot. Such a brave and funny comic. It's the bollocks — ILYA, author of Room For Love and Kid Savage
Possibly the funniest graphic novel I have ever read. A comic novel which has heavy emphasis on male pudenda and poo would not be my 'reach for' item in the bookshop in the normal scheme of things. But Robert Wells' opening page, depicting himself naked from the waist down, looking like some crazy scientist who's lost the plot, completely disarmed me with its candidness and self-deprecating wit. The book continues with wry observations delineated in a clear, unfussy, confident style that reminds me a little of Scott McCloud. To say it's a story about health issues and misadventures with doctors, doesn't do it justice. It's Marcel Proust crossed with Only When I Laugh. I urge you to buy this book for your mental happiness! — Jessica Martin, actress and author of Elsie Harris Picture Palace
In this hilarious graphic memoir, Rob Wells takes the comics tradition of self-mockery and abasement to a new level, regaling us with the workings of all his bodily plumbing, the mechanics of masturbation, and his worries about the size of his penis, while his graphic avatar, a portly man with his right hand perma-thrust down the front of his pants, frets about making a public spectacle of himself by soiling his pants in public. For our amusement, Wells drops his trousers and undergoes all manner of undigni?ed procedures at the hands of an array of - mostly unlikeable - doctors and feckless or bullying nurses. The book is not kind to the medical profession, yet there is much for healthcare professionals to glean here: good doctors will recognise their rude and condescending colleagues and sigh with sympathy at Rob's pain. Rude and patronising doctors will roll their eyes and tut at his dysfunctional illness behaviour. This is a study in complexity theory with no simple mechanical cures, a case of chronic pain and medically unexplained symptoms, where most of the attempts at cure come to nothing, while patient communication and kindness go lacking, leaving our man increasingly sceptical of the bene?ts of modern medicine. I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud on just about every page. Wells's pacing and visual humour is ?rst class. Filthy and puerile, yet wise and weighty, the book ends how it begins: a man in a teeshirt, naked from the waist down, telling us rather too much about his most intimate problems. Excellent — Dr Ian Williams, author of The Bad Doctor and co-author of The Graphic Medicine Manifesto
If I'm being truthful, I'm probably quite pleased that Rob has been suffering for decades from chronic pain. It's impossible to imagine anybody else suffering as he has being able to express their experiences with the same level of skill, humour and honesty. Great artists claim that they've suffered for their art but Rob literally has — Paul Rainey, author of There's No Time Like The Present
If you're an unabashed, blunt, salty person who has ever had trouble getting a doctor to acknowledge your very real illnesses, or a massive hypochondriac (because let's face it, GPs think those are both the same thing), you'll love this very amusing comic about navigating the NHS and dealing with worrying, painful health problems. As someone suffering a lot of health issues myself, this was a reassuring yet realistic, frustrating yet fun read — Jade Sarson, author of For The Love Of God, Marie!
Funny, compelling and honest - and I had my legs crossed the whole way through. - Martin Eden, author of Spandex and O-Men
Commendably - almost excruciatingly - honest . . . Wells is admirably frank in depicting himself in an array of demeaning, trousers-down situations — Graham Kibble-White, Guardian
With a crisp, clean cartooning style, a dry wit and a line in merciless self-deprecation, [Wells has] been long overdue his own moment in the spotlight . . . What makes this such a markedly different read in the graphic medicine strand of comics storytelling is Wells's ability to find humour in subject matter that would otherwise seem beyond comedy . . . This is a graphic novel that is uncompromisingly honest and open, and refreshingly so. Robert Wells's debut book puts the 'graphic' in 'graphic medicine' with a bleakly witty flourish. Not so much painfully amusing as excruciatingly, squirmingly and eye-wateringly funny — Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier
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