Jim Baikie

Jim Baikie (1940- ) is one of the longest-running Jinty artists. While he was not in the very first issue, his starting story (“Left-Out Linda” in 1974) was done fairly early on in his career (he started in 1966); after he and Jinty parted ways, he went on to become well-known in his 2000AD work as well as in American comics. He is largely retired now, but there are some news items posted on his Facebook page. (See also his Comiclopedia page.)

From Jinty 7 May 1977

From Jinty 7 May 1977
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From Jinty 7 May 1977
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From Jinty 7 May 1977
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My trajectory as a comics reader is such that pretty much alone amongst Jinty artists, Baikie is someone whose subsequent work I came across again and again. As well as reading Jinty, I also read American comics (primarily Marvel), and later on I read 2000AD as so many of my university peers did.  The short-lived comic Crisis was a must-read too, and that included an ongoing story drawn by Baikie (“The New Statesmen”). I don’t remember quite when I identified him as having been the artist on the memorable “The Forbidden Garden”, but I remember how it felt: excitement, surprise, and a mental ‘click’ as two disparate parts of my comics-reading life came together.

He drew a number of different kinds of story in Jinty: ones about troubled family relationships, spooky stories, a science fiction strip, a humour strip. The first great swathe of stories are nicely done, but nothing outstandingly different: they are well-observed and good to read, but only “Face The Music, Flo!” and “Ping-Pong Paula” made much impression on my memory at the time. “Spell of the Spinning Wheel” moves up a gear while still being an evil object story matching other ones (“Creepy Crawley” ran at precisely the same time, making it a great time for fans of spooky stories).

For me, both “The Forbidden Garden” and, rather differently, “Fran’ll Fix It!”, represent the peaks he reached in Jinty. Both are fairly unique within the set of stories he drew in this title: one science fiction story, one humour strip. We have previously seen a lot of repetition of a given writer & artist combination – Terence Magee stories being drawn again and again by the ‘Merry’ unknown artist – and I could well imagine that in the list below, ‘Linda’, ‘Kat’, ‘Flo’, and so many other stories might be written by a popular Jinty writer who produced a number of similar stories along the same themes. But ‘Fran’, in particular, strikes me as something that a writer-artist – or more precisely, a cartoonist – could well have produced. There are so many sight-gags in the background, such a zany feel to the whole story, that I am very tempted to think that Baikie is likely to have written the whole lot as well as drawn it – or at the very least, had a large creative hand in it.

We now know that there was at least one case of an artist writing their own strip, as Veronica Weir is known to have done this on “Girl The World Forgot“. Baikie is also known to have written his own material at subsequent points in his career, too (he wrote sequels to the Alan Moore science fiction strip “Skizz” amongst others). Might he even have written “The Forbidden Garden” as well? This striking story has a soulless future dystopia where the soil is poisoned and the people are oppressed, barely one step up from being robots: echoes of the Megacity that Baikie’s future colleagues were simultaneously creating in 2000AD. It could be said to parallel the other Jinty science fiction stories, but it doesn’t feel particularly close to any of them. This is probably my wishful thinking, though.

Leaving aside this speculation, you don’t have to think much about it to see why he was such a well-loved artist. The Gypsy Rose four-page story above has beautiful, energetic composition: the girl’s running foot in the first panel, the echo of the tree root in the forked lightning just below, the girl’s face forming the bottom section of the third page. It’s full of dynamism and individuality. Likewise, although he drew 14 stories plus various Gypsy Roses over the years, his characters are all clearly identifiable without blurring into each other. As one small example, ‘Linda’ and ‘Flo’ have similar hairstyles (though one dark, one blonde) – but their facial expressions are distinctively their own. There is no danger of mistaking one for the other, even if separated from their story context – but that’s something for a follow-up article sometime. (How did long-running artists manage to avoid visual repetition, indeed?)

List of Jinty stories attributable to Jim Baikie:

  • Left-Out Linda (1974)
  • The Kat and Mouse Game (1975)
  • Face The Music, Flo! (1975)
  • Ping-Pong Paula (1975)
  • Miss No-Name (1976)
  • Willa on Wheels (1976)
  • Rose Among the Thornes (1976)
  • Spell of the Spinning Wheel (1977)
  • Fran’ll Fix It! (1977, 1979)
  • Two Mothers for Maggie (1978)
  • Wild Rose (1978)
  • The Forbidden Garden (1979)
  • Village of Fame (1979)
  • White Water (1979-80)
  • Gypsy Rose (various)

Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

Sample Images

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Publication: 8 December 1979 – 29 December 1979

Artist: Unknown artist (Merry)

Writer: Unknown

Summary

In Daisy Green Youth Club, Verna is known as “the original panto cat”. She is conceited, bossy, domineering and self-centred. She walks over everyone to have everything her way.

The club members are discussing what to do for their Christmas special when Verna barrels in, tears up their suggestions and pushes ahead with her own – a pantomime for the kids who will be confined to Farley Hospital over the Christmas season. But Verna doesn’t stop there. She allows no discussion of what the pantomime will be – it must be Cinderella. Before the meeting is over, she casts everyone in the roles as she sees fit. And of course she casts herself as Cinderella. Gwen is feeling very indignant at the way Verna carries on.

But there is worse to come when Gwen finds Verna is writing the panto as well. She is astonished to find the script Verna gave her is only two pages long and the lines are awful. The same goes for everyone else, and they find out why at the next meeting – Verna’s part is three times as big as theirs! They reach their limit at this and shelve Verna’s script in favour of one in the club library. But they still give Verna a chance to be Cinderella if she is good. But of course the panto cat is anything but good, and in the end she finds herself without any role (not even as wicked stepmother, the only role that really suits her personality).

Gwen says they still have to let Verna be director, but that proves to be a bad mistake. Now the panto cat has lost the limelight she turns vicious. She gets her claws out and sets out to wreck the panto now she cannot be in it. As director, she tries to stir everything up, make everyone’s life a misery, and even smash the pumpkin. All this does is get her removed from the panto altogether.

Another club member, Minna, suggests they have Verna’s father make Cinderella’s coach. Gwen says they should keep Verna out, but Minna feels it is rotten to do so because it is Christmas. This is another bad mistake. Verna sabotages the coach so it will fall apart on the night. Instead it falls apart at a rehearsal, leaving Cinderella with a sprained ankle, Prince Charming with a black eye and the Fairy Godmother with an injured leg. It looks like the show is off and the panto cat has got the cream.

But then Gwen has a brainwave – convert a piece of the coach into a puppet theatre and have a puppet Cinderella show instead. Unfortunately, Minna tells Verna about how they have salvaged the disaster, thinking she is acting in the spirit of Christmas. So the cat gets ready to pounce again. On the night of the show, Verna tries to sabotage them at the club as they make preparations to set off. She fails, and her tricks put Gwen on her guard.

At the hospital, Gwen sends Verna on an errand to get her out of the way. Verna spots a jug of water in a ward and goes in for it, planning to spill it on the puppets and make them too wet to use. But she failed to spot a warning notice on the door saying there is a child with scarlet fever quarantined in the ward. Verna has got too close to the child, and the nurse tells Verna she now has to be quarantined as well. The cat’s last minute pounce to wreck things has backfired. Verna has to spend Christmas in quarantine (later the editor informs us in the letter page that she did not contract scarlet fever) and watch the show she tried to sabotage through the observation window.

The show is a huge success and everyone except Verna enjoys it. Afterwards, the girls have a Christmas party back at the club and Verna’s fate gives them all the more reason to celebrate. Minna says she enjoyed the panto despite all the problems and they must do it again.

Thoughts

“Tale of the Panto Cat” was one of the Christmas-themed filler stories that Jinty ran over her build up to Christmas. But what Christmas message does this tale of spite, sabotage and deliberate attempts to wreck a Christmas production have for readers? Well, every Christmas has a Grinch somewhere. If Jinty ever had a Grinch story, this has to be it. But unlike her Seuss counterpart, the heart of Verna does not swell to the right size when faced with the spirit of Christmas. Rather, she destroys herself in her efforts to wreck the show. It backfires on her and she ends up spending Christmas in quarantine.

Instead of a sentimental story about the true spirit of Christmas, we get a more typical story of an unpleasant type who causes trouble and getting her eventual comeuppance. Christmas is used more as the theme and setting for the story. This makes the story a nice, refreshing, atypical break from the more standard Christmas fare in girls’ comics. And Verna does not change into a nicer person in the light of Christmas, which makes it even more realistic.

Minna is the only one who strives for real Christmas spirit in the way she insists on keeping Verna in the loop over the panto. But in so doing she unwittingly helps Verna to cause more trouble. Perhaps the story is making a statement that the spirit of Christmas is lost on some people. In fact, although it was Verna’s idea to put on the show for the children in hospital, Verna clearly did not do it for the sake of the kids. All she cared about was being the star of the show and the centre of attention. When she could not have that, she turned just plain vindictive and set out to wreck things in any which way she could with no thought for the kids or anyone else. That is hardly the way to behave, much less at Christmas time. One can only hope Verna left the club for good after she came out of quarantine and was not around to interfere with the next Christmas special.

Jinty 14 July 1979

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  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)
  • The Forbidden Garden (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Disappearing Dolphin (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Nothing to Sing About (artist Phil Townsend)
  • A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Pandora’s Box (Guy Peeters)

The panel of the repulsive mutant flowers from “The Forbidden Garden” has really made this Jinty cover stick in my memory. Mankind has poisoned the world and plants can’t grow. Laika finds a patch of soil that can support plant life. But the horrible flowers she has just produced are one hard lesson – you can’t go from poisoned, barren earth to plant paradise without a few snags and setbacks along the way.

Meanwhile, Pandora uses her box to produce bewitched ballet shoes to make her dance flawlessly. But the box can’t teach her manners, and Pandora’s self-centredness gets her into  serious trouble when it has her committing an act of sheer rudeness.

It’s part two of “Almost Human”. Xenia has just discovered she can’t touch any Earth creature without killing it. This is now causing problems with integrating with Earth people and plenty of misunderstandings.

In “Nothing to Sing About”, Linette is so desperate not to sing that she runs away – only to find herself in a situation where she is forced to sing or go hungry. But can she do it without breaking down?

Jinty 5 January 1980

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(cover artist: Trini Tinturé)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Spirit of the Lake (artist Phil Townsend)
  • The Perfect Princess – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Did Taffy Know? Gypsy Rose story
  • Alley Cat
  • When Statues Walk… (artist Phil Gascoine)

It’s the first Jinty issue for 1980, but Jinty isn’t making it much of a New Year’s issue. The only mention of New Year is on the back cover, where we get instructions for making The Resolution Tree: draw a large tree, write your resolutions underneath and hang it up.

We do get a new story, though, “The Perfect Princess”. You have to decide whether this is one of Jinty‘s lesser offerings or one of her oddball stories. Whatever your opinion, it certainly turns fairytales and every girl’s dream of being a princess inside out. Sally Smith dreams of being a princess but is taking it a bit far. Her room is filled with books and pictures on fairytales and princesses, and she won’t mix with common people or get close to her foster parents because she is reserving herself for a more refined family. However, fairy tales do warn of great trials to become a princess, and Sally will soon find that is just what she is facing. But instead of wicked stepmothers, witches, curses, monsters and other fairy tale perils, Sally finds herself up against Princess Victoria, who is such a royal horror that she has been disowned.

In “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” we get what seems to be the only appearance of Gaye’s parents throughout the entire run of this regular. Gaye bursts in on them to tell them all about the ghost (Sir Roger), but their only response is to confine her to bed sick. As only Gaye can see Sir Roger, the doctor thinks she has an imaginary companion and tells her she may have to stay in bed for months – until Sir Roger intervenes. Afterwards, Sir Roger is dismayed to find Gaye welcoming him as a friend instead of being scared.

Jinty 29 December 1979

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Spirit of the Lake (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat – last episode (unknown artist Merry)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Forget-me-not at Christmas – complete story (artist Guy Peeters)
  • When Statues Walk… (artist Phil Gascoine)

It is Jinty‘s Christmas issue for 1979 and Jinty makes it a big celebration. Even the stories that do not feature Christmas still celebrate it with snow-covered logos and/or holly. There is a nice touch of humour on the cover with the cat playing with the tinsel garland. That is just the sort of thing a cat might play with.

The Christmas issue starts off with a quiz “Make it your wishbone Christmas”. In fact, the quiz is the first thing you see when you open the cover. The break from a picture story starting things off sure makes it clear how serious Jinty is about celebrating Christmas. Her 1979 Christmas story, “Tale of the Panto Cat” concludes with this issue, of course. Everything ends happily of course – except for our would-be-grinch Verna, who spends her Christmas in quarantine when her last trick to spoil the Christmas panto backfires.

Despite the happy ending and the efforts of one girl in “Panto Cat” to remember the Christmas spirit, even with Verna, there is not much Christmas message in the story. That is reserved for “Forget-me-not at Christmas”, a very poignant story of a Victorian waif who was invited to a rich girl’s party but was turned away because they forgot she was invited. She sat outside in the snow waiting to be remembered. But by the time they did, poor Forget-me-not had frozen to death! In the 20th century, Sandie Hurst encounters the ghost of Forget-me-not and invites her to their Christmas party. Will Forget-me-not be remembered this time?

Alley Cat tries to raise money for Christmas from carol singing, but thrown boots and smashed windows tell you how good he is at carol singing. But in the end he does get a happy Christmas because he unwittingly did the Muchloots a favour.

Jinty 15 December 1979

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(cover artist: Bob Harvey)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Waves of Fear – last episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • My Heart Belongs to Buttons – last episode (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies – last episode (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (artist Guy Peeters)

As the cover depicts, this is the issue where we see the debut of Jinty‘s most enduring regular, “Pam of Pond Hill”. She was the most enduring because she lasted through the merger with Tammy and became a Tammy regular. Pam was, of course, the Jinty version of Grange Hill. Her strip opens with her telling us how her first day at Pond Hill went. You get a pretty good idea of how it goes when the aniseed balls Pam’s gran gave her go over the landing and onto the heads of sixth formers below! Pam finds a kindred spirit in her form teacher, Miss Peeble. It’s Miss Peeble’s first day at ‘The Pond’ too, and she is off to a bad start as well. We know things will get better, but what do our newcomers go through in the meantime?

As well as starting a new story, this issue sees off three stories. “Waves of Fear” will be replaced by another Phil Gascoine story, “When Statues Walk…”, the following week. Jinty sure liked to keep Gascoine busy, didn’t she? “Spirit of the Lake” takes over from “My Heart Belongs to Buttons” in the next issue. The regular humour strip, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, will replaced by a more enduring one, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, the following week. And a fourth strip, “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is now on its penultimate episode. This means we see another new story for the Christmas or New Year issue. Well, it is December after all. December is a time for farewelling the old and bringing in the new for next year.

You might call Jinty‘s 1979 Christmas strip, “Tale of the Panto Cat”, a grinch story. Bossy Verna wants to pull all the strings of her youth club’s Christmas panto and be star of the show as well. When she does not get her way because everyone is getting fed up with her, she sets out to ruin the panto.  We eagerly wait to see what role the Christmas season will play here.

 

 

Penny 23 February 1980

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

Lately we have been posting samples of the Mario Capaldi covers that appeared in the last two years of Jinty. I have been wondering why Jinty made the change to Capaldi covers, and the odd issues of Penny I have suggest that the Jinty & Penny merger may have been a key factor. In the later part of her run, Penny also switched to Capaldi covers such as this one.

The Penny Capaldi covers here are clearly aimed at a younger audience than the Jinty ones. The girls on the covers are younger than the girls who appear on the Jinty sports covers, and emphasis is on cute animal scenes. Former Penny readers must have felt grown-up to be getting the more sophisticated sports covers in the merger.

Interestingly, “Seulah the Seal” has become just plain “Seulah” in this issue. However, it is back to “Seulah the Seal” when he goes into the merger.

  • Seulah (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Sad Sal and Smiley Sue
  • The House of Arden (artist Douglas Perry, adapted from E. Nesbit)
  • Kay’s Camp Site (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Blue Island Mystery (artist Keith Robson)
  • Kathy’s Convict

 

Jinty & Penny 9 May 1981

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

Jinty was now out of the Mario Capaldi sports covers and into the era of full cover versions of the spot illustrations that Capaldi drew for her text stories that appeared later in 1981. This one is one of my favourites. I find it difficult to take my eyes off it because I just love the surreal, misty, ocean atmosphere. The use of lemon yellow in the background lifts the blues and greys and provides a lightening, yet atmospheric contrast that I just love. it is not surprising that the text story is a ghost story.

“Fancy Free” is one of Jinty‘s more realistic bully stories. Here the star of the show is a bully, Fancy Cole. Fancy is the most difficult pupil in her school, a rebel without a cause, and the only thing she cares about is her freedom. Her problem is that her home life is miserable and unloving. Her mother cares more about bingo than her, the place is a tip, and Fancy longs for her absent father (and to know the reason why he is absent). So often in real life does an unhappy home and lack of decent parenting spill over into bullying and other behaviour problems.

“Diving Belle” is going to extraordinary, dangerous, and even illegal lengths to regain her nerve at high diving. But she continues to do so because something tells her to believe a gypsy woman, who says something vital depends on it. The gypsy woman herself doesn’t quite know what it is yet, but readers may have guessed already.

In “Worlds Apart”, the girls have been force-fed into fatties in a world where everyone is grotesquely fat. In fact, EVERYTHING is fat – even the sparrows! How on earth they manage to fly, we don’t know. But then, exercise is frowned upon in this fat world (the absolute opposite of the next world the girls will encounter). So the fatties are shocked when Ann takes a run. Then everyone is shocked when she drops dead from running because she was too fat for it!

Jinty & Penny 14 February 1981

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(Cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Ghost Dancer (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Friends for All Time – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Behind the Screen – the Muppet Show
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Land of No Tears (artist Guy Peeters, writer Pat Mills)
  • No Medals for Marie (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Life’s a Ball for Nadine (artist Mario Capaldi)

This is another of my favourite Jinty sports covers. The composition and the use of the yellow space against the rest of the colours in the foreground is so eye-catching. And the activity (I would not call yoga a sport) is a nice, relaxing change of pace from the usual active sports such as tennis or hockey. I myself like yoga and I know the girls are positioned in shoulder stands, headstands and ploughs.

As we see from the heart in the background, our yoga practitioners probably have their minds on Valentines Day. Yes, it is the Valentine issue. The back cover provides instructions for making your own Valentine heart, which you can either wear or put on a Valentine card. Inside, though, there isn’t so much as a Valentines Day card in any of the stories. It is all business as usual.

“Land of No Tears”, “The Ghost Dancer” and “No Medals for Marie” all began in the New Year issue. Now they enter their seventh episodes and approximate mid-way points. In “Land of No Tears”, Cassy allows herself to take heavy punishment to save her friend Miranda, and is rewarded in a way she never dreamed of. In “The Ghost Dancer”, Ferne’s now in an even bigger mess than before. Her bid to escape discovery backfires when it intensifies the rumours that her mother’s ghost is haunting the ballet school. Marie’s parents are even more upset that there are “No Medals for Marie”, and all because of the hold Marie’s godmother has over her.

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Mr Gold (Goldilocks) the strict headmaster takes Pam and Co by surprise when he decides what to do about the anti-uniform news sheet they have been circulating. Their punishment is to produce a lower school magazine in one month! And so The Pond Hill Printout is born.

The Gypsy Rose story is one that Misty would be proud of. Nasty Aunt Gladys abuses her niece Karen. Karen takes retreat in daydreaming and an old dress from Mathilda, godmother to Karen’s grandmother, but these really aggravate Aunt Gladys. She looks on them as forms of lunacy inherited from Mathilda, whom she believes was mad. But is it madness or something that will give Karen the last laugh over her cruel aunt?

Jinty & Penny 13 June 1981

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(cover artist: Mario Capaldi)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Food for Fagin – first episode (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • There’s No One Quite Like Grandad – text story (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • The Resting Place – Gypsy Rose story (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Angela’s Angels (artist Alberto Cuyas)
  • Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Dracula’s Daughter – first episode (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Alley Cat

This is one of the few issues where Phil Gascoine‘s artwork does not appear. He is in between “Diving Belle”, which finished in the previous issue, and his next story, “Holiday Hideaway”. Meanwhile, two new stories begin.

The first is a Trini Tinturé story, “Food for Fagin”. Olivia Twist (yes, and the Charles Dickens references continue throughout the story) has always wanted a dog of her own. Eventually her mother agrees, but on the strict condition that the dog won’t eat much, because they have a tight budget. So Olivia gets Fagin – and guess what sort of appetite he develops as he grows?

The second is “Dracula’s Daughter”. We get shades of Dickens again in the form of a headmaster who is virtually Dickensian in the way he believes a school should be run. And he is out to ram it down the throat of his daughter’s free-and-easy school with strong-arm tactics.

In “Worlds Apart”, the girls have finally figured out why they are ending up in these strange worlds; first a world of fatties and now a world of sports-mad people. It is their dream worlds becoming reality. They realise what must be done in order to escape the sports-mad world – Ann, the unknowing creator of the world, must die. But can they really allow Ann to die? At the end of the episode it looks like the question has become redundant when the villains of the piece in this world take a hand.

In “Pam of Pond Hill”, Steve runs away because he can’t stand his stepfather. But of course he would pick a heck of a time to do so – his mother is ill! “Angela’s Angels” have a problem patient, who is bad tempered, violent, and is now climbing out the window – on the seventh floor!