Cruel to be kind

Thom Ferrier
United Kingdom


When does “eliciting a response using pain” turn into sadism? While working in the Emergency Department in the ’90s, I would sometimes perceive an apparent vindictiveness in the actions of colleagues — and occasionally recognized within myself — born of tiredness, frustration, or a sense of being manipulated by a patient. At these times I suppose I had a feeling that the patient deserved some form of “payback” for acting the way they did. Some health care workers are saints — I am not, and clearly my colleagues were not either.

As professionals, I feel it is our duty to acknowledge our less than noble instincts and motivations — the better to modify and monitor our own behavior. I like Sol Stein’s dictum: Writers write about the things that others only think about. I would extend that to alternative or underground comics, which has a radical history of tackling issues rarely dealt with in other media.



cruel to be kind page 1

cruel to be kind page 2



DR. THOM FERRIER is a British comics artist and a former general practitioner, now working in sexual health. His comics work can be seen on


Highlighted in Frontispiece Winter 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 1
Winter 2012  |  Hektorama  |  Art Essays