Classic Comics Tattoo’s were produced by Gilberton Company, Inc. in New York, USA in 1945.
The Gilberton Company, Inc. was established by Albert Lewis Kanter in USA in 1941 as an imprint of the Elliot Publishing Company. The comic book publishing house is best known for the Classics Illustrated comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics, with 169 comics published in the series.
It’s debut comic books were titled ‘Classic Comics’, featuring The Three Musketeers, followed by Ivanhoe and then The Count of Monte Cristo. In addition to comic strips, the comics featured author profiles, educational fillers, and advertisements for the coming titles. In later editions, a catalog of titles and a subscription order form appeared on back covers.
In 1942, due to it’s huge popularity, the Gilberton Company, Inc. became independent of the Elliot Publishing Company, with sales of it’s comics between 1941 and 1962 estimated at 200 million copies.
In March 1947, with edition number 35, ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’, a name change occurred, from ‘Classic Comics’ to ‘Classics Illustrated’.
Classics Illustrated began to be distributed internationally in 1947, in English speaking countries such as Australia (by Ayers & James, 1947–1953), Canada (by Gilberton, 1948–1951) and also to the United Kingdom (by Thorpe & Porter, 1951–1963).
Classics Illustrated versions were also translated in a variety of countries, including Brazil (by Editora Brasil-América Limitada, 1948–1961), Greece (by Ekdóseis Pechlivanídi, 1951–1990), Mexico (by Editora de Periódicos La Prensa, 1951–1973) and also in Norway (by Serieforlaget, 1954–1956).
In 1967, the Gilberton Company, Inc. was sold to the Frawley Corporation, publishing Classic Illustrations under it’s Twin Circle Publishing Co. brand.
The series came to an end in 1971.
Classics Illustrated edition number 1, published in April 1947, is the first edition we see with the new title on the cover, changing over from the previous title of Classic Comics. This edition is actually edition number 36 in the series. At the rear of the comic, a subscription advertisement is found.
The advertisement tells us that if a 10 Classic Illustrations comic book subscription is purchased, 40 Tattoos are provided free of charge, containing a variety of King Features Syndicate comic book characters including Popeye, Wimpy, Olive Oil, Sweet Pea, Blondie, Dagwood, Cookie, Dr. Zarkov, The Katzenjammer Kids, Jiggs & Meggie, Barney Google, Flash Gordon and more.
The Phantom was also featured in the Tattoo series, with the Phantom seen in the advertisement above, riding Hero, in the top left.
The Classic Comics Tattoo’s were provided on a backing card and came in full color. Below we see the card featuring 5 Tattoo’s of characters found in Phantom comic strip stories. 2 Tattoo’s feature the Phantom and 1 each of Diana, Rajah and Maharajah. The year 1945 is also seen on the front of the card, plus copyright approval by King Features Syndicate.
Classic Comics Tattoo’s were provided to subscribers by Gilberton Company, Inc. in an envelope as can be seen below, with the Phantom featured amongst a variety of other comic book characters on the outside. 4 cards were found within the envelope containing 10 Tattoo’s per card.