Only one new title was created, Harvey, "inspired" by Archie's successful group of comics. Initially written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Stan Goldberg (who had been working at Archie for a few years), later issues were produced by Stu Schwartzberg and Henry Scarpelli. Running sporadically from 1970-1972, Harvey lasted only six issues and didn't cause the Silberkleit's (Archie's publishers for those of you not "in the loop") to lose any sleep.
Just because it looks like an Archie comic that doesn't mean it sells like an Archie comic! Stan Goldberg art, Sam Rosen lettering, Harvey # 1, October 1970. Image from the Grand Comic Book Database.
The bulk of Marvel's foray into children's comics lay in their past, where they had a wealth of features to reprint. They consisted of a Casper the Friendly Ghost copy, Homer the Happy Ghost (brought back from the daed, excuse the pun - since Casper continued to fly off the stands) by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo, Lee and Joe Maneely's Dexter the Demon, which was re-titled (with some art alterations) as Peter the Little Pest and Li'l Kids/Li'l Pals which featured reprints of Howie Post's "Little Lizzie". The 10th issue brought a change, as a brand-new series debuted.
Li'l Kids introducing Calvin # 10 (February 1973). Kevin Banks signature is seen on Calvin's desk, with the initials "N. T." nearby. Image from the Grand Comic Book Database.
For three issues the title changed to Li'l Kids introducing Calvin, a humorous strip featuring an African-American child. The cover is signed "K. Banks", along with the initials N. T., which I assume is the inker. Unfortunately, I'm stymied as to who those initials belong to. The splash page has Banks drawing a cartoon of himself.
Banks (standing) posing with long-time letterer/production man Morrie Kuramoto in the Marvel Bullpen circa late 1972 or early 1973. Photo from Foom # 2, Summer 1973.
A photo of Kevin Banks appeared in Foom # 2, Summer 1973, a fanzine produced by Marvel. "Behind the scenes at the Marvel Bullpen" focuses on many of the behind-the-scenes staff. Banks is only mentioned as "L'il Pals" artist with no further information. The photograph reveals Banks to be a young man.
Little has surfaced about Kevin Banks or his short tenure at Marvel. I've quizzed folks who were there at the time, including Roy Thomas and Tony Isabella, but they have no recollection of the man. I've scoured the internet and have come up with few answers, although a few details have surfaced since I originally wrote this post in 2012. Two people knew Banks many years ago (see the comments section) adding that he lived in the Bronx and was an artist for the New York Daily News. It remains a mystery WHAT he drew, though. A comic strip? Single-panel editorial panel? Filler art? My friend Michael J. Vassallo has been researching and collecting The Sunday News comics and thus far has not seen anything with Bank's by-line.
Many questions about Kevin Banks work in comics remains a mystery. Did his only comic book work appear in three issues of Li'l Kids? Could he have drawn or written stories in obscurity at a company such as Gold Key, where creator credits were often non-existent? Or was he employed at the Daily News or another newspaper? Since he was a young man back in the 1970s there is always a chance that Kevin Banks may one day surface to tell his story.
And who was N.T. ?
If anyone has further information on Kevin Banks or knows his whereabouts please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe one day I can update this blog post with the heading "mystery solved"