However, the job itself was not easy. Chen said she had to watch the movie’s rough-cut over and over again, discuss each character’s personality and personal experience with Wei and Umin, and finish the 400-page comic series within six months.
To meet the tight deadline and the publisher’s high expectations, Chen, despite working 12 hours per day, also had to squeeze in time to watch baseball games in person to ensure that her work captured the essence of one of the most-loved sports in the nation.
“During those six months, my desk was covered with numerous bottles of nutritional supplements to get me through and I had seven assistants working with me. However, it was still a really tough task to complete,” Chen said.
She said creating the comic series was a bittersweet process because the story often moved her to tears.
“The baseball team’s [second baseman] Nobuo Kawahara was an expert in repairing stitching on baseballs. I was devastated when I found out that he later died on the battlefield,” Chen said.
Dubbed the “iron wall” because of his strong defensive techniques, Kawahara was drafted by the Japanese army during World War II and was killed in battle.
Chen said she felt a strong connection with the characters, especially when she was drawing the scene where they fought to the last ditch in the tournament.
“I could not stop crying until I completed the scene,” she said.
The publishing house said it also plans to release a digital version and a Japanese-language version of the comic series in the near future.