Celebrating childhood imagination

by Paul Jamiol

Dog Ear Publishing, $14.95, 37 pp.

“Pops has been riding a long time. Of all the animals, Pops is the oldest… his motorcycle helps to keep him young.”

OK, I can definitely relate to that. And I can definitely relate to Bikers are Animals 2: The Rest of the Crew, the second in a series of “children’s books about motorcycling” by writer and artist Paul Jamiol.

I can relate to it because I share Paul’s desire to provide a vehicle through which the younger generation can get a bit of a kinder and gentler look into the biker culture than they can by sneaking an R-rated peek at Sons of Anarchy or Gangland.

Even the title of Jamiol’s books—the first being simply Bikers are Animals: A Children’s Book on Motorcycling—present a positive spin on the old pejorative about people from the motorcycle culture being “animals” in a social sense.

But here in the world of Paul Jamiol, the bikers are animals—real ones (well, at least cartoon dogs, wolves, eagles, bears and a fun variety of furry and feathered friends). They are members of the Bears Motorcycle Club, founded by a big ol’ bear named Thor.

Bikers are Animals 2: The Rest of the Crew indeed introduces us to “more of the crew”—the proud members and associates of the Bears MC.

We meet Rachet, a very mechanical turkey. We get to know Anvil, a particularly gregarious biker bull. And of course Pops enters the scene—an old road dog with “grandpups,” representing for all of us who still remember what it was like before electric starters, rubber mounted engines, and state-of-the-art sound systems.

And there are so many more colorful creature-characters in the “crew.”

But Paul has branched out in this book. In the same way that animated TV shows have inserted real-life characters into their casts, Jamiol has given us GT Charlie, a “cool muskrat” who loves to play the guitar. Any guesses as to who this just might be?

As with the first book, i ends with some “riding tips” for the young’uns from the crew. Some helpful hints regarding protective clothing, the dangers of touching hot pipes, using the right tools, the fun of biker events and more are passed down from the woolly wild ones.

There are also coloring pages; pages that can be reprinted and used to bring out the creativity in the kids. And to me, working some chromatic Crayola magic on some custom bikes and their righteous untamed riders is a whole lot cooler than coloring a bunch of lame clowns or carousel horses!

Bikers are Animals 2: The Rest of the Crew is another example of not only the artistry and wit of Paul Jamiol, but it is a celebration of presenting this entire lifestyle as the family package that it is. Pretty much all of us have kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, or other crumb-crunchers we love who get so excited hearing the roar as their dads and moms, gramps and grammas, uncles and aunts, friends and even older siblings come riding up on these amazing machines. The books of Paul Jamiol spice up that fantastic feeling with a very healthy dose of childhood imagination.


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