Last year Serena Valentino rewrote Cruella De Vil’s backstory in the darkly captivating seventh novel in Disney’s ever-popular Villains series, which sheds new light on the dark history of the franchise’s most sinister villains. Cruella De Vil has been in the limelight this year with a new live-action movie that was paired with an “origins” novel as well, but there is something about Valentino’s backstory that feels far more true to the devil woman we all know so well.
The Evil Thing Graphic Novels Brings New Layers to Cruella De Vil
Following the success of Evil Thing, the story was recrafted into a gorgeous graphic novel illustrated by Arielle Jovellanos, bringing to life Cruella’s tragic and tormented past in the form of an illustrated memoir. Just as Valentino’s book guided readers through Cruella’s tenuous relationship with her mother, her friendship with Anita, and her descent into madness, the graphic novel does the same, but with vivid red-tinted memories. Arielle Jovellanos’ illustrations add a new layer to this chilling story, creating a minimalist color palette that maximizes the underlying moroseness of Cruella’s story.
How do you make a puppy killer sympathetic? You don’t, but Valentino makes readers rationalize what got her to that point. Her mother’s controlling and emotionally manipulative nature, the loss of her father, her strained friendship with Anita, the societal responsibilities of an upper-class woman, her husband’s sudden death, financial struggles, and a pair of potentially cursed earrings. All of these tiny moments build to a devastating mental breakdown of a woman that could have been destined for greatness.
Evil Thing has nothing to do with Emma Stone’s recent portrayal and everything to do with the iconic 1961 film, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, that was later turned into a live-action film starring Glenn Close. This story gives vital information about what led to that reclusive and bitter woman, with a few twists along the way.
Most surprisingly, Cruella and Anita grew up with one another, best friends and classmates at a fancy finishing school. Their friendship grows more and more strained as they grow up and Cruella becomes obsessed with maintaining control of her life, while Anita moves on to typing school and meets Roger. This is, of course, not addressed in any of the films, but it works so well. Especially with how Perdita comes into play.
Transforming Evil Thing into a graphic novel was such a smart decision on Disney’s part. The visuals make the story that much more powerful and aesthetically it has become a must-have book for any One Hundred and One Dalmatians fan.
Evil Thing is out in bookstores today.
Maggie Lovitt is the Managing Editor of Entertainment at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery. She is also a freelance writer and News Editor at Collider. She has had bylines at Inverse, Polygon, and Dorkside of the Force. She is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association.
When she is not covering entertainment news, she can be found on one of her numerous podcasts or on her YouTube channel. In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.