Weidenfeld & Nicolson, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, has acquired world rights to publish a graphic novel version of Sven Hassel’s iconic war novel, Wheels of Terror.
Wheels of Terror: The Graphic Novel , featuring art by Catalan comic artist and illustrator Jordy Diago, described by “Charley’s War” co-creator Pat Mills as “an excellent and faithful adaptation of the classic anti-war novel”, vividly captures the violence and inhumanity of World War Two, and is being published on 1st October 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the conflict’s conclusion.
Denmark-born Sven Hassel began writing during his time as a Prisoner Of War. His 14 Second World War books – recently optioned for TV – drew on his own encounters and experiences as a soldier, and have been published in more than 50 countries: 53 million copies have been sold worldwide and 15 million in English. The books were hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s in the UK, published by Corgi, and the author’s career was re-launched in the mid-1990s, since when his global sales currently stand at around five million (included in above figure of 53 million) across 25 languages.
From the blistering cold of the Russian steppe to the horrors of tank warfare and the grim realities of life on the Eastern Front, Wheels of Terror has been adapted to graphic novel format by Michael Hassel and Sven’s grand daughter, Mireia. and artist Jordy Diago, who has previously illustrated the covers of Sven Hassel novels on the continent and whose illustrations vividly capture the gritty, gory detail of the novel.
Based on the book that inspired many of today’s leading war comics, the graphic novel has already won support from leading names in the comics world.
“Jordy Diago is to be complimented for his achievements,” commented Garth Ennis, who is currently working on a new “Johnny Red” series for Titan Comics and has written many war comics. “I certainly hope to see more from him.”
All the Sven Hassel novels were reissued in paperback and eBook over 2013/2014 with stylish and arresting new covers. The Sven Hassel Collection, with additional exclusive material, was published as an eBook in December 2013. In Summer 2014 Orion issued audio download editions of Legion of the Damned and Wheels of Terror.
In summer 2013 rights in the entire Sven Hassel Legion of the Damned series of books were sold to Maundi and Artists Studio, one of the UK’s leading television production companies (best known for The Fall and Thorne) for development into a major television drama series.
Sven Hassel, who died on 21st September 2012 aged 95, was born in 1917 in Fredensborg, a small village in Denmark, and joined the merchant navy aged fourteen as a shipboy. In 1936 he did his military service and in 1937, to escape the unemployment in Denmark, he joined the German army as a volunteer. Initially he served in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and later in the 11th and 27th Panzerregiment. He fought on all the frontlines except that of North Africa, and he was wounded eight times.
Sven was a POW from 1945 to 1949, in Russian, American, French and Danish camps. Sven Hassel married in 1951, and lived in Barcelona from 1964 until his death.
He based his war adventure novels on his own experiences serving in a penal regiment during World War Two. Information about the author on the Kate Hordern Literary Agency web site notes that of the band of friends Sven writes about – Tiny, Porta, the Legionnaire, the Ol’ Man, Heide, Gregor Martin and Barcelona – only Tiny, the Legionnaire, Heide and Sven himself survived the war. The novels are about the lot of the ordinary soldier in a terrible war, harsh conditions and experiences, survival and heroism, all laced with dark humour.
The novels have most recently been reissued in the Cassell Military Paperback list, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, as follows: Legion Of The Damned (2003), Wheels Of Terror (2003), Monte Cassino (2003), SS General (2003), Liquidate Paris (2004), Reign Of Hell (2004), Comrades Of War (2004), Blitzfreeze (2004), March Battalion (2007), Assignment Gestapo (2007), Court Martial (2007), The Bloody Road To Death (2007), OGPU Prison (2008) and The Commissar (2008).