Follow Cruella as she tells her own story from childhood to prison. With a mother focused on fashion and appearances, a father who dies when Cruella is only 16, and a husband who dies young as well, it’s no wonder she struggles with her emotions and how to show affection. From presenting fancy gifts to show her “love” to trying to marry her daughter off to gain access to her husband’s inheritance, Cruella’s mother makes it clear that she’s only interested in money and not her daughter’s well-being. 

Cruella’s best friend is Anita, a young girl from a lower social standing. Over the years, Anita is the voice of reason and familial love, as is Miss Prickett, Cruella’s tutor. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to help Cruella develop deep feelings of love and respect for others. Instead, she makes the choice to put her mother’s approval above all things. Because of this, after the violent, fiery death of her husband Jack, Cruella falls into a deep depression. And when she’s finally roused, her demeanor has drastically changed, as has her physical appearance. 

The minimal color usage (black, white, and red) is reminiscent of older comics, which speaks to the time period of the story. Although there isn’t a lot of color, the artist puts it to good use and makes sure to include enough details that the lack of other colors is less noticeable. I think this choice matches the tone and setting of the story quite well. Another aspect that is quite fun is the connections between characters in this retelling that first appear in the animated Disney movie. 

I haven’t read the original novel that inspired this graphic novel adaptation, but I have seen the recently released Cruella movie, which does not have the same story line, but shares a similar character arc. Preteen readers will enjoy this book, but note that grief and loss are covered heavily throughout the story. 

Evil Thing: A Villains Graphic Novel
By Serena Valentino
Art by Arielle Jovellanos
Disney-Hyperion, 2021
ISBN: 9781368076104

Publisher Age Rating: 12-18
Related media:  Book to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)

  • Liz

    | she/her Assistant Professor


    Elizabeth Hollendonner is an Assistant Professor for Staley Library at Millikin University. She has been reading and enjoying graphic novels and manga since grade school, took a comics class under Dr. Carol Tilley and a book review class under Dr. Deborah Stevenson while earning her Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree.

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