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May 2004: The Erickson Tribune: The Man Behind the Turtle
by Mary Thayer Haugen, Staff Writer
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Aaron, Aford and SimonAaron Riddle wears many hats. He is a graphic designer for Erickson and, among his other duties, he creates the layout each month for The Erickson Tribune. He is also the creator of Aford, a comic strip that appears five days a week online and in a dozen newspapers including the Tribune.

In addition, Aaron maintains an award-winning website,, which is home to the online strip, and also offers drawing tips and coloring pages for children.
Pretty impressive, especially when you consider that Aaron is only 23 years old.

Young? Yes, but he’s been drawing since he was two. “My parents used to put a big pad of paper on the floor and I’d just draw all over it. From that point on, I drew all the time. There wasn’t much else to entertain us out in the country where I grew up,” Aaron explains.

“The first ‘real’ drawing I ever did was of a turtle. My Mom still has it. I loved the comic strip Garfield and read it all the time. I think that’s why I enjoy drawing creatures.
“I started drawing comic strips by copying Garfield, except I would substitute my own characters. I was about 10 years old when I created Aford the turtle,” he says.

The Inspiration

Let’s start with the name. “It’s embarrassing to tell now, but I got the name by looking out the window. I saw our Ford truck sitting there and I thought, “a Ford . . . Aford!” I was 10 at the time, but the name stuck,” Aaron says.

Aaron says he gets his ideas from everyday life and his own experiences. Getting the ideas is the hard part. Once he decides his subject, he can draw the strip in 30 minutes.

He has written about 600 Aford strips so far. “I just started doing this on a regular basis in the last year. I had kind of given up on it until I got to college and realized I could post it on the Internet and it wouldn’t cost me anything,” he says.

Of course his ultimate goal would be syndication, with Aford running in Sunday papers all over the country. Aaron admits the time may not be right for Aford to hit it big since comic strips featuring computer themes are in demand right now, but he’s content to wait.

In the meantime, you can keep up with Aford monthly in the Tribune and online at