Packed with fresh and juicy content, Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes’ new book “functions like an Aldi catalogue”

The publication – named Mystery Friend – is split in two parts and features heck loads of comics, characters, stickers and a peeping hole in the centre page.

24 August 2022


“We are going after the careers of Mike Judge and Walt Disney,” says Paul Rhodes with a mix of humour and seriousness. Paul is one half of the creative partnership founded with Haein Kim, and for the past couple of years now, the pair have charged into the industry with their funny and colourful illustrations. So, his statement about coming for Disney isn’t actually too far off.

From an It’s Nice That Ones to Watch back in 2019, to numerous comics and silly jokes highlighted in playful hues, the pair have continued to impress with their superbly joyful animations and whacky (yet relatable) storytelling. And their efforts have been rewarded, rightfully, with them both joining the Nexus roster as a directors of animation duo. Besides learning the ropes of pitching for animation projects during this new milestone, they’ve also launched the next release of Mystery Friend, which we’re seeing here today. A dual sided art book made entirely in Risograph, Paul explains how it was a special project made possible with help from their friend Bailey Sharp. Bailey, after moving to Melbourne and getting involved at Riso printers Glom Press, asked if they wanted to make a book. “And we said yes!”

The book took a year to make and is a magnanimous display of the artist’s signature talents, as well as their harmonious methods of working. Think bubbly characters going about daily errands, wearing extra large glasses and colourful garms, or the universal experience (and dizziness) of waking up from a dream. “It’s all about the small moments in life and the vibes,” says Haein. “I’ve always gravitated towards drawing playfully and making this book was like being a full-time kid, which was mad.” The book is more or less split into two, with a cut-out brick page allowing readers to peep through the paper. Oh, and there’s stickers on each side – who doesn’t love stickers.

GalleryHaein Kim and Paul Rhodes: Mystery Friend. Paul's pages (Copyright © Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes, 2022)

Haein’s contribution sees a series of illustrations and two short comics come to life on the page, and Paul’s work – on the flip side – has been split by way of a long comic and a few illustrations dotted about. This includes a tale about an elevator operator “wolf guy” who tells a story about his friend, Mr William and Willy Worm. “It’s a bit of a TMI moment between strangers,” he shares. “My life is sprinkled with interactions like this all the time. I always end up finding out the most random stuff about my neighbours and anyone in my radius. I think I have a ‘I’m here to listen’ vibe or something.”

Quite frankly, there’s no better way of describing it than something that “functions like an Aldi catalogue”, says Haein. And not in the sense that you can go through and pick out the best deals on offer, but more in the way of how it’s divided physically. “You have one half of the book that is 100 per cent Haein,” she explains, “then you flip it, and the other half is 100 per cent Paul. It’s very different to how we work together in animation, which is a lot more brain melding.” By using Riso, the work exudes a wonderful sense of texture – you can imagine peeling back each layer and revealing one of five colours underneath. “I owe Bailey the world,” continues Haein, who explains how she “painstakingly” took her art, scanned it, separated all the elements and experimented with opacity to match the originals. “It was a very labour intensive book.” Quite frankly, the work has really paid off.

GalleryHaein Kim and Paul Rhodes: Mystery Friend. Haein’s pages (Copyright © Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes, 2022)

GalleryHaein Kim and Paul Rhodes: Mystery Friend. Paul’s pages (Copyright © Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes, 2022)

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Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes: Mystery Friend (Copyright © Haein Kim and Paul Rhodes, 2022)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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