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California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas
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California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,384 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Before she became the legendary Mama Cass—one quarter of the mega-huge folk group The Mamas and the Papas—Cass Eliot was a girl from Baltimore trying to make it in the big city. After losing parts to stars like Barbra Streisand on the Broadway circuit, Cass found her place in the music world with an unlikely group of cohorts.

The Mamas and the Papas released five studio alb
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by First Second (first published September 17th 2015)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  2,384 ratings  ·  404 reviews

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This is originally in French which is funny considering that Cass Elliot and the Mamas and the Papas were American. I am a huge fan of Cass and the Mamas & Papas. I enjoy listening to them all the time. Yet, I still did not know their story. To me they were this successful group and for some reason I never wondered how they became.

This is a fascinating behind the scenes before they were famous story of Cass Elliot. Cass was an amazing person. I wonder where Penelope did and received all her res
Sam Quixote
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Penelope Bagieu’s California Dreamin’ is a biographical comic about the early life of Ellen Cohen aka Cass Elliot of ‘60s group The Mamas and the Papas. It’s not a bad read but it definitely has its flaws.

Cass’s life turns out to be fairly ordinary which unfortunately doesn’t make for the most riveting of stories. She wants to be famous, goes to New York and hangs out with artists who recognise her amazing voice. Eventually she becomes friends with musician Denny Doherty who joined a folk trio
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Let's face it - on a superficial level, 'Mama' Cass Elliot was an unlikely pop star in the latter part of the 20th century. By the mid-60's the popular music world was as much 'visual' (think of TV variety shows and teen magazines) as it was 'audio,' so in this narrow-minded atmosphere a performer's looks counted for a lot. But rising above this notion, Elliot had the talent and gumption to succeed.

Bagieu's graphic novel bio - which, though the cover might suggest otherwise, is solely illustrate
Dave Schaafsma
Penelope Bagieu has an engaging style, full of positive energy. I read Exquisite Corpse, her first English-translated book, and I thought it was good, but I gave it another star just for that quality she seems to bring to the work. I kind of feel the same way about this book. It’s an adoring story of Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas . . . but let me stop there for a minute. Bagieu is 35 and can write about anything she wants in the world, but she chooses to write the story of a sixties Ameri ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
Ellen Cohen (aka Cass Elliot) will always be a legend because of her confidence and glorious vocals. The girl could harmonize. But she was so insecure, and never really had a man in her life that loved her back the way she wanted. It was nice to see how she grew up and to learn about her Baltimore roots. Now I need to find something to read where this bio left off. I took the author's advice and listened to Midnight Voyage. Yup. She was right. Gulp.

"For me, this is the song that offers the b
First Second Books
Mar 07, 2017 marked it as first-second-publications
Dive into this beautifully drawn graphic novel about an unlikely candidate for stardom, the folk scene in NYC's village, and one of the most bizarre and dysfunctional groups of people to ever come together to make music. It's Mama Cass as you've never known her, in this touching biography of the 1960s New York folk scene from French comics sensation Pénélope Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse). ...more
Book Riot Community
This graphic biography explores the life of Cass Elliot before she became the legendary Mama Cass of The Mamas & The Papas. Bagieu tells her history from her young age, as the oldest of three children, up through her mid-twenties, when the band’s first mega hit jolted them into the spotlight.

Cass’s life wasn’t a straight-line to success. It began humbly in Baltimore, following a series of failures of trying to make it in the big city of New York. Her voice was earning her a reputation, but the m
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was so good!

I knew almost nothing about Mama Cass. I literally didn't hear California Dreamin' in my head until the very last page of this GN (which is remarkable because that song is referenced a tonne in this book). I picked this book up because it was an acclaimed GN, about a popular music figure, who was a fat woman.

And it was awesome. She was a fascinating figure, and the way this story is told is really smart. Different vignettes, each from the perspective of a different person in he
I knew little about "Mama Cass" from The Mamas & The Papas and this graphic biography was an excellent look into the life of one badass, fat-positive, Jewish lady who found success despite what the world wanted her to be. Bagieu's style really lent itself to portraying her in an appealing, accessible light. Perfect for fans of the band, of music history, and of girls who don't look the norm succeeding because they choose to do so for their damn selves.

Karen Foster
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the artwork.... just lovely....
I’m definitely going to hunt down more by this illustrator.... I’m now a total fan! 💕
Rod Brown
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've read dozens* of graphic novel biographies and have come to dread the experience as they are so often dry and dull as dirt. But I keep trying because once in a while you get an amazing little gem like this. I've never been a huge Mamas and Papas fan - I have a greatest hits album - but through Bagieu's pen, Mama Cass comes alive as a riveting if tragic figure. I'd really love to see a second volume.

* Okay, I just checked my personal book database, and the number is actually 90. And only nine
Dov Zeller
The cover of this book shows a super sassy ready to take on the world young adult Cass Elliot and I was just reading gr reviews of the book and one reviewer starts off by saying how confident Elliot was. And in the very next sentence (without realizing, I think), the same reviewer says how insecure Elliot was. These are the many faces of Cass Elliot. Someone who wants to hide by being larger than life--hide in her own shadow? Or who wants simply to perform and be appreciated and loved for her ta ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I am a huge sucker for Pénélope Bagieu's style. I've never had much interest in the Mamas & the Papas and don't know anything about the band, really, apart from the fact that Mama Cass was the main attraction. It's beautifully drawn and colored, but the story leaves a little something to be desired. I'll likely revisit it in a year or two and see how I feel then. ...more
When I started hearing buzz about this, I knew I definitely had to read it being the 60s music kid I am. I enjoy The Mamas and the Papas, but I've never been in lovvvve with them or anything, so I wasn't holding the bar too high. But dang! I ended up really loving this!!! I don't think I looked into the dramarama of the M&Ps since watching their VH1 Behind the Music or something in the 90s, so I forget just how *much* dramarama there was. So apart from this being super juicy, it was also an exce ...more
Derek Royal
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first exposure to Bagieu was a couple of years ago and another of her First Second books, Exquisite Corpse. I enjoyed that book, I remember, at least the first three quarters of it. This biography of Cass Elliot, though, works well throughout. I particularly appreciate Bagieu's mode of storytelling and her use of narrators/focalizers in telling Elliot's tale. ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a well written and illustrated graphic novel about the early life of Ellen Cohen, better known as Cass Elliot. She was the beautiful voice of the 60's folk group, The Mamas & The Papas. I've always loved their music and I think Cass is the reason why the group was such a success.

Stewart Tame
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The title sums up the book nicely. This is a biography of Cass Elliot leading up to the point where the Mamas and the Papas hit it big with "California Dreamin'". Like many people, that's really the only song by the band that I'm familiar with. And I know she's one of many rock personalities who died tragically young. This book doesn't deal with her fame and demise though.

The story is really pretty straightforward. Cass's star power is evident from an early age, she goes for a music career despi
Abby Johnson
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am a HUGE fan of the Mamas and the Papas and I particularly loved their music when I was in middle school and high school, so this graphic novel biography of Ellen Cohen (Cass Elliot) was fascinating to me. I think it will strike a chord with many teens, particularly kids who are interested in the music of the 1960s.
I ♥ Mama Cass. + Lou Adler is as cool as a penguin's toes in this book. ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Slightly interesting, but very mediocre. The art isn't that charming and the not much about the background as you would hope for and the way it was written I wonder if it is even true. ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm so excited to see more of Bagieu's work being translated to English. Thankfully for me, I can read fluently in French and I work in a bilingual public library system, so I have very easy and affordable access to Bagieu's stuff, but I want it shared with the world!

I'm still not sure where or when I first heard California Dreamin' but I do remember being completely mesmerized by it - the answering vocals and Cass Elliot's voice completely swept me away. It's still one of my favourite songs eve
Stay Fetters
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Received an EGalley from Netgalley for an honest review!!
"Stopped in to a church I passed along the way.
Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray.
You know the preacher liked the cold;
He knows I'm gonna stay.
California dreamin' on such a winter's day."
Before I started reading this I have to be honest..I didn't know much of anything about Mama Cass. I knew the music she has made and the struggles along the way, but that was as far as it went.
And what I did know came from the book High on A
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bagieu is an incredible cartoonist AND comic book artist. Her cartoons are irrepressible, expressive, spontaneous, full of verve. Her visual storytelling skills are masterful, something to be studied and copied. I also find that this book works great as an introduction to Cass Elliot, specially because it stops early, the story isn't resolved. So the reader must go look after the rest online, to see what happened. I found this open ending a genius touch. ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wonderful. Doesn't pull any punches when it comes to Cass' history, attitude, and personality, or that of those around her (looking at you, John Philips).
The sketchy art style suits this musical biography, mirroring the rhythmic flow of Cass' style.
Only downside is it's abrupt ending, just as The Mamas & The Papas hit the big time.
Emily (Obsessed Reader)
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow, very moving. I had no idea about the story behind the group and behind Cass Elliot. Amazing art style and storytelling!
California Dreamin by The Mamas & the Papas is one of my all-time favorite songs!! So I was excited to pick up this graphic novel. I absolutely loved Bagieu’s work. The art and the story complemented each other so much. 266 pages of brilliant b&w panels telling the story of Mama Cass, from childhood to success.

The story is somewhat piecemeal: a variety of narrators and simplistic yet over the top dialogue. We all know that Cass had tremendous talent, but this portrayal had her pegged as brash an
Villain E
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so good. The figure drawing and the facial expressions are amazing. The characters are distinguishable from each other, and you can follow them as thy change hairstyles and facial hair over time. Bagieu is a master at capturing the subtlety of character. The alternating perspectives on the story are perfect. The ending feels a little abrupt, but the subtitle does say "Cass Elliot before The Mamas & The Papas" so I guess it makes sense. ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
How Ellen turned into Mama Cass...
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I believe following First Second on Twitter is what led me to this book. They kept tweeting about it sometime back and I really liked the cover. I'm also a sucker for non-fiction comics so here we are. I didn't even know exactly who The Mamas & The Papas were until Trey had me listen to the songs (one of those times of knowing a song but not the artist).

This is a really enjoyable work of sequential art. It looks like it's done entirely in pencil and the only style I feel it's comparable to is Ka
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Goodreads and First Second books for this book.

I have to admit that I've never read a graphic novel before. I just wanted to read about Mama Cass' life before The Mamas & The Papas. I read it in one day since it was comic book form. Great art work too. It went into the beginnings of the group and ended with California Dreamin.'
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Goodreads Librari...: Translator not listed 10 22 Mar 05, 2017 12:04PM  

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Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer. She became known for her comic blog My quite fascinating life.

Penelope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and en

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