Speaker announcement: Comics as a change agent

By TEDxSalem Storyteller, October 25, 2013


Eric Howald / Photo by Terri Jacobson

Eric Howald / Photo by Terri Jacobson

Eric Howald is a storyteller with a heart for the socially disenfranchised.

That’s a good mix for a journalist.

Eric, an associate editor with Keizertimes, first got into comics as a child, when his dad exposed him to Bloom County strips.

Then he came across G.I Joe’s issue 21, an entire comic without words.

“When I saw someone tell a story without any words, it blew my mind,” Eric said.

The St. Louis native moved to Eugene for the University of Oregon graduate journalism program, and was shocked by the ubiquitous nature of its homeless population. At the same time, he used comics to escape from his academic readings, and noticed a connection between comics and social issues.

At TEDxSalem, Eric will show us some examples of how comics can change minds and in turn bring about social change.

Eric actually ended up never finishing his journalism master’s. Instead, he got a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from Antioch College’s  low-residency program. He was drawn to the school for its ties with social justice, he said.

For his field study, he started a creative writing club at McNary High School and the group is in its third year.

Eric hopes to expose TEDxSalem attendees to comics as an art form that is uniquely collaborative — not just between the writer and the artist, but with the reader as well.

“You really have the opportunity to change hearts and minds,” he said.