Vancouver artist's heartbreaking cartoon about Florida school shooting goes viral

Pia Guerra says she needed to do something. Now "Hero's Welcome" has been shared thousands of times.

Pia Guerra says she needed to do something. Now "Hero's Welcome" has been shared thousands of times.

When something as horrific as last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida happens, it's almost impossible to capture the emotion in an image — but one Vancouver illustrator did just that, and now her cartoon has gone viral.

Titled "Hero's Welcome," Pia Guerra's cartoon depicts the school's beloved football coach Aaron Feis being led into heaven, and welcomed by a crowd of students and teachers who were killed in earlier school shootings.

Feis, also a security guard, was hailed a hero after shielding students from the gunman's bullets.

"It gave me a little lump in my throat when the idea (for the cartoon) first kind of popped up," Guerra, who felt helpless after the shooting so began to draw, told Canadian Press

"I thought, 'I think that might be strong enough.' But I had no idea it was going to hit people this hard. Everyone's telling me that it broke them or they're devastated or they got all punched in the gut with it or they're in tears. And that was surprising."

Now the poignant image has been shared more than 45,000 times on Twitter alone, and Guerra has been getting media attention from around the world.

But it's not the first cartoon that has garnered international praise for Guerra, who began her career illustrating graphic novels, among them DC/Vertigo's Y: The Last Man with writer Brian K. Vaughan.

Last year, her cartoon that showed a childlike Donald Trump sitting on Steve Bannon's lap saying "I'm a big boy" also went viral.

Now parents, students and teachers are writing to Guerra to let her know how deeply affected they were by her "Hero's Welcome."

"I saw this earlier, and I sat in front of my students and cried," one teacher tweeted. "And then I showed it to them, and they cried, too. Very powerful. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

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