This is probably my favorite page of the set. Originally there was a lot more dialog on this page, but when Eren sent me this one I didn’t have the heart to cover up all that lovely illustration with word balloons. I think I made the right call.
I shared the material below a while back with my Creator Corner patrons on Patreon back when work first started on this short story. Since it’s been months and it’s relevant to this particular page, I’ll share it with everybody here today as well:
Una’s mother is Pwamani and an Ozat fighter. Ozat is a sport that mixes wrestling and boxing, with differently shaped “rings” (not all are circular). Each round, the fighters try to either subdue their opponents or force them out of the round’s ring. Whether this is done by a throw, a clever dodge, or a brutal pummeling is up to the fighter. Each ring is encircled by another, so the fighters have more and more space to work with as the rounds go on, requiring different tactics. Each shape also has a religious significance, although this significance is not always observed or emphasized, depending on the kind of Ozat fight it is.
I based the build of Hara, Una’s mother, off of Sara McMann’s physique. In 2004, Sara became the first American woman to earn a silver medal in Olympic wrestling. She also won several medals in world championships between 2003 and 2007. She is now a mixed martial artist. I wanted someone who had both wresting and fighting experience as a reference.
I’m glad that I looked up a real-world fighter, because one of the things I realized while working on my sketches was that I had forgotten how physically strong women can be. We’re fed such a photoshopped image of how women look in most media that it becomes the dominant mental reference. Studying just Sara’s neck muscles, for example, put into stark contrast the tiny, impossibly thin and lengthened necks women’s heads are often attached to in drawings and “photographs.” It was really refreshing to draw a woman so powerful and muscular, and I want to bring more of that physicality to future drawings and designs.