With Further Ado #282: Here Come the CRANIACS!

I met Ira Friedman years ago when my friend Steve Rotterdam and I were working hard to build Bonfire Agency. Topps was just the type of company that was perfect for our emerging agency.

Ira had a vision and a plan for all his various projects, but I recognized him from the old Topps line of comics. I loved so many of their titles back then, Zorro, the Lone Ranger, Jurrasic Park, Mars Attacks, the Kirby titles… There were so many cool things going on.

Ira Friedman enjoyed a long and healthy career at Topps. Not many folks can boast that they “worked there for 30 years,” after all. Well, now Ira is getting ready for his new endeavors, and I think it looks like a lot of fun! Here’s the press release:


After more than three decades at Topps, serving in a variety of senior management roles, Ira Friedman’s newly formed company, Ira Friedman Enterprises LLC, is now open for business. Drawing on Friedman’s career experience, the firm is focused on creating original, merchandise friendly content for collectors and kids. CRANIACS is the firm’s debut intellectual property.

In collaboration with co‐creator Joe Simko, fan favorite Garbage Pail Kids card artist, the CRANIACS back story revolves around two civilizations – one from ancient times and the other in the far future. Due to intergalactic circumstances beyond their control, these divergent societies strive to co‐exist…though not without considerable challenges, robust competitions, and humorous, action‐adventure hijinks.

Joe Simko’s masterful artwork – showcasing dozens of all‐new character creations – brings CRANIACS to life in spectacular, eye‐popping fashion. Through his self‐described ‘happy horror’ art style, Simko’s vision for the CRANIACS is one where all characters feature unique, skull‐faced designs, presented in a variety of colors and with diverse personalities. “As a co‐creator of CRANIACS, playing an integral part of a new IP that combines fun storytelling with completely original character designs is a dream opportunity!” explains Simko.

The first phase of the CRANIACS introduction will take the form of a series of premium quality trading cards geared to the hobby/collector community. ‘Series 0’ will appear this October in card and pop‐culture shops ‐‐ in limited quantities. In addition to common cards in packs, collectors can chase after randomly inserted foil and other rare cards, including original art sketch cards. Plus, a one‐of‐one ‘golden ticket’ card will appear in one random pack, redeemable by a lucky winner for an original CRANIACS full‐color painting featuring an image from the series.

“The trading card category is obviously familiar territory for Joe and me and the ideal launch pad for introducing CRANIACS. While we also expect the brand to resonate in many other formats, cards will remain a key ingredient in CRANIACS’ DNA,” says co-creator Ira Friedman.

With cards as a foundational building block, plans are in motion to expand the CRANIACS footprint globally and into a variety of licensed product categories. Talks are underway with interested merchandising partners, with an initial wave of official goods expected during the first half of 2024. And stay tuned for exciting news on the animated entertainment front.

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To learn more, visit https://www.craniacsworld.com. I think it looks like a lot of fun. Go get ‘em, Ira!