Pia Guerra is a Canadian comic book artist who also draws editorial cartoons. She told BuzzFeed News she began her editorial work after the 2016 election in the US "because I felt a need to do something in the face of this wave of misogyny and racism rearing its head."
She said editorial work has become her "new path" alongside her comic book work.
"Drawing was a way to be part of the 'resistance,'" she said. "It felt really good, especially after blowing up one of my cartoons into a sign for the Women’s March in DC and getting a lot of positive feedback."
Guerra said she gets inspiration for her work while watching current events.
"Part of my routine is to sit in front of the TV and an open laptop and absorb a lot of news until an image comes to mind, and then I draw it, submit it and see if it’s accepted," she said.
That is what she was doing Thursday, watching the news coverage of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Guerra said she drew one cartoon inspired by the tragedy, and was waiting for a response to her submission when she saw a news report about Aaron Feis.
Feis, a football coach and campus monitor at the school, died protecting students from the gunfire.
"The story about Aaron Feis came up, and another light bulb went off, one that gave me a huge lump in my throat (usually a good sign that I’m on the right track) so instead of going to bed, I drew that," Guerra said.
Her cartoon is, quite simply, a punch to the gut.
It depicts Feis being welcomed to heaven by all of the other student and teacher victims of previous school shootings.
"I wanted to take the standard 'all these angels are in a better place' meme and turn it around a little, to show these wonderful, beautiful, brave lives...who should still be here," she said. "To both prompt the viewer to ask why they aren’t here while also paying tribute to Mr. Feis’s act of love."
She posted the cartoon on Twitter, where it soon went viral. Many were incredibly moved.
Others felt inspired.
Guerra said the responses to her cartoon, good or bad, "gets people thinking and talking and that’s good."
She said she looked up a few days ago how many school shootings they have had in Canada since 1975, and there have only been 11. She said it's clear the US needs to change.
"That’s my main source of anger over all this. A country of 35 million people just north of you guys figured out the issue of access to certain guns and how it correlates to these events," she said. "Why haven’t you? No, gun control laws won’t absolutely stop these killings...but they will curb them by a significant amount, and create a better society in the process. Please, please consider trying it."
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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