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SocGen trader Kerviel turned into comic-book hero Add to ...

Jérôme Kerviel, the man blamed by Société Générale SA for the biggest trading loss in banking history, is now a comic-book hero.

After inspiring at least five books, a "Save Kerviel" club and fan T-shirts, Thomas Editions, a children's book publisher, has released Le Journal de Jérôme Kerviel, a fictional, illustrated memoir of the trader's rise and fall at France's second-largest bank.

The comic book is further evidence of how France is still enthralled by the banking scandal that hit the 144-year-old lender earlier this year. Paris-based Société Générale lost €4.9-billion ($7.4-billion) unwinding unauthorized trading positions Mr. Kerviel had taken, which were concealed with fake hedges.

"When we first had the idea to do a humorous take on the affair, to show the story as a simple trader with the same problems as any other young single guy in Paris, we had no idea how it would be received," Xavier Thomas, founder and head of Thomas Editions, said in a telephone interview.

The number of calls and early orders through vendors like Amazon.com Inc. prompted Thomas to delay the book's first outing by two weeks to double the printing to 10,000 copies, he said.

Mr. Thomas said he is considering further expanding the print order to 20,000 to 30,000 copies, based on international demand.

The story of Mr. Kerviel - a native of Brittany, who rose through the ranks to Société Générale's trading floor without having attended any of France's elite schools - has made the 31-year-old a folk hero for many in France.

The pseudo-diary of Mr. Kerviel was written by an author who goes by the pen-name Lorentz and illustrated by Nicolas Million. The book starts with Mr. Kerviel as a young man at the bank, conscious of his humble origins as he compares his "three-button polyester suit" with the haute couture of his co-workers, saying, "I was all wrong."

It chronicles his rise to trader, showing him coming home to frozen dinners and renting Casino on DVD. As he begins trading beyond authorized limits, he takes his cues from random signs, like his concierge's observations about the weather or his horoscope in TV Guide. He mocks the bank's risk controls, fooling managers with a fake trade approval by photocopying a note onto German central bank letterhead.

Société Générale had no comment. Mr. Kerviel's lawyer Caroline Wassermann said it leaves her "indifferent."

 

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