Artist and writer Ryan Harby has garnered an online following with his Honey Dill series, which features short, quick comics that deliver a powerful, meaningful message in lighthearted packages. The creator and Renegade Arts Entertainment are now offering a “love letter to odd humour” in the anthology collection Awkward Pause, which includes more than 50 of Harby’s favorites, covering everything from mental health to murder and butts.
Harby chatted with The Beat via email about the new collection, available now.
Deanna Destito: How did this series come about?
Ryan Harby: Well, I started posting some comics online under the name “Honey Dill” almost five years ago as a creative outlet while I was working my day job. I really wanted to try and make something larger like a series or at least a collection. At the time my job wasn’t incredibly fulfilling, at least creatively, so I think that really helped push me to keep making this “thing” that was my voice and my vision, for better or worse.
My favorite comedy growing up was stuff that was conceptually abstract but also completely stupid, in a playful way. Sometimes the audacity of making something stupid is just as funny as the surface content. Sometimes.
Destito: Why do you think people relate to it so well?
Harby: You know, it’s probably a little different for each person, but I like to think my work is accessible even though it’s absurd. That stuff doesn’t have to seem totally foreign to the reader. I think if someone follows my comic they probably like silly nonsense.
Destito: Can you talk about what influenced your comics?
Harby: I don’t really know how likely it is that I would be making comics if it wasn’t for all the newspaper strips I devoured as a kid. There’s something so funny to me about the finitude of a Far Side comic. Like, “that’s the whole thing, deal with it.”
I also feel like I try to bring my love of sketch comedy to the comics I make. I grew up watching the Canadian sketch show Kids in the Hall almost every day. They aired the reruns constantly up here. For more than a decade it was like a fixture of Canadian television.
Destito: What should people know about Awkward Pause?
Harby: It’s a collection of 54 comics from my online series selected from some of my favorites over the years. There are a lot of well-meaning characters in weird circumstances.
I like to think the book is a light read, something easy to digest that will hopefully give you a moment to relax and enrich your life with some foolishness. Foolish joy.
Destito: How has the transition to a new publisher been?
Harby: Great! My publisher (Renegade) and I connected shortly after the book’s Kickstarter campaign last year. They had reached out when they heard Awkward Pause was looking for a home and it’s been really nice to be part of an operation passionate about getting independent Canadian work in people’s hands.
Head to Renegade Arts Entertainment’s website to purchase your copy. Check out a few preview pages here.