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Surviving the Summer Break for ‘Once Upon a Time’ Fans – Graphic Novel Review – ‘Out of the Past’

 Kalinda Vazquez and Corinna Bechko
ART BY: Pascal Campion, Betsy Peterschmidt, Vanesa Del Rey, and Janet Lee
RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2015

With just 48 days to go (from time of this publishing) to the Season 5 premiere of Once Upon a Time on September 27, I’m champing at the bit while trying to amuse myself with OUaT related activities. I don’t know how you’re faring, but I feel that if we were all on a raft right now, I’d imagine you as a big hot dog and you’d see me as a giant hamburger.

I’m actually getting antsy. Like, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, huffing loudly as I wait for my computer to boot up, grinding my teeth watching my tea heat in the microwave antsy. As I’ve explained before, I’m deeply emotionally invested in OUaT. It’s not just about romantic relationships either. I need to know more about the characters’ history and motivations. I need to know more about how magic works. I need to meet new characters and see new realms. I need ten minutes alone in Gold’s shop, darn it! I don’t even want to steal anything– I just wanna see what surprises and secrets my non-HD TV is missing!

Well, I can’t have any of those things, so this week I settled for something that was new-to-me to tide me over another seven days. Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past was published by Marvel in April 2015. But I’ve been obsessively writing fanfic busy doing important grown up things, so I haven’t made time to read it before now. But I’m actually glad I waited, as I really needed to digest this last season and appreciate where the main characters from this graphic novel started and where they ended up.

Unlike its predecessor Shadow of the Queen, this volume is comprised of four stories. It focuses on events prior to the series start for Hook, Rumpelstiltskin and Belle, the Evil Queen, and Jefferson. Hook’s story reunites him with his brother, Liam, long-thought dead. In Rumple and Belle’s story, we find out that Belle’s devotion to keeping her promise to Rumple isn’t just about pleasing him but being true to her word. In Regina’s story we see yet another painful motivator fueling her quest to destroy Snow White. And in Jefferson’s story we learn that the Hatter wasn’t always so mad.

Out of the Past is co-authored by Kalinda Vazquez and Corinna Bechko, and illustrated by four artists. Each story has its own unique style, but all remain true to the feel of the series we love. Hook’s story, Dead in the Water, is illustrated by Pascal Campion, and it’s a gorgeous homage, intentional or not, to Mary Blair’s days at Disney.

Rumbelle’s story, “Truth and Daggers”, is some of most gorgeous watercolor work I’ve ever seen. I confess, I can’t say with certainty whether or not Betsy Peterschmidt did the entire chapter by hand, but if she did, then I want to lie prostrate at her feet and kiss those fingertips… if she’d let me.


Vanesa Del Rey and Esther Sanz’s work in Regina’s story “Ghosts” has a classic feel with a modern edge, perfectly befitting a story like Once Upon a Time.

Lastly, the art of “Tea Party in March” by Janet K. Lee is easily my least favorite offering.


While the storytelling and layout are nice, the style is just shy of bad fanart that one might find attached to mediocre fanfics. And let it be known that I have produced my share of both mediocre fanfics and fanart, so I think I know what I’m talking about. But just because I didn’t like the style doesn’t mean it wasn’t appropriate for the story. Campion’s art was rough and eerie like the seas the Jolly Roger sailed, while Peterschmidt’s watercolors were soft and dreamy and warm, like the light that Belle brought into Rumple’s Dark Castle. Del Rey and Sanz’s work was dark and gritty, like Regina’s sadness and vengeance. All their art was befitting their main characters and their story, and Lee’s work regarding Jefferson is no exception.

I think that if you’re missing something original while you wait for Season 5 to commence, then Out of the Past is an excellent tide over. The art is (mostly) gorgeous, and the stories are excellent additions which are true to the characters’ mythos. Both paper and electronic copies include bonus material like character sketches.

All comics come with a price, though, and in my opinion, the $17.99 or less you’ll shell out for this book is well worth it.

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