Although Niso Ramponi (1924–2002) worked under numerous names - Kremos, Niso, Nys O’ Ramp - he occupies a singular space as Italy’s premiere pin-up cartoonist.
From the mid-1940s through the early 1960s, Ramponi’s work could be found everywhere from newspaper comic strips to movie posters to the covers of weekly magazines.
Born in Rome in 1924, it was not long before Ramponi’s drawing gifts began to emerge and be recognized by his parents and teachers. As a child he won first place in a national drawing contest, and in grade school his teacher would often request for Ramponi to stay after school to draw large backdrops on the blackboard of various settings relevant to the next day’s lessons.
When it came time for high school, Ramponi was accepted into an art preparatory school at Via Ripetta in Rome, where he studied under Walter Lazzaro of the highly influential Lazzaro family of artists. Lazzaro was known to be a reserved and severe instructor, but he immediately recognized the young Ramponi’s exceptional talent, and a lifelong friendship eventually formed between pupil and instructor.
Although Ramponi is better known today for his beautiful cartoons and magazine covers, he actually spent much of his life working in animation.
During World War II, Ramponi’s uncle, a documentary filmmaker, secured the teenager a job in the animation department of the Italian newsreel agency, INCOM. The young Ramponi left art school to seize the opportunity, and he quickly found himself acquiring increasing amounts of responsibility, including helming several animated shorts as director.
Kremos: The Lost Art of Niso Ramponi, Vols. 1 & 2 are the first collections of the artist’ s work anywhere in the world.
A decade in the making and benefiting from careful restoration, this new two-volume set covers the Italian cartoonist and animator’s entire career. Volume 1 collects over 200 of Kremos’s bodacious black and white cartoons and illustrations and is fronted by a 6,000-word introduction by Ramponi’s friend and current-day animator, Mario Verger. Volume 2 adds 250 curvaceous color comics and covers to the set, with a foreword by contemporary comic artist Jerry Carr. Combined, these volumes offer over 500 professionally translated examples of his work and a comprehensive overview of a maverick artist at the height of his powers. Both volumes are available for immediate order from the publisher, Lost Art Books and select online retailers.
Joseph V. Procopio has been working in publishing as a writer, editor, and creative director in print and Web media for over 20 years. He has a lifelong passion for illustration, cartooning, and the graphic arts.