Even as Ramponi’s career transitioned more toward teaching, in 1978 he was hired to produce concept art for the low-budget film Starcrash that hoped to capitalize on Star Wars’ recent popularity.
It could probably go without saying that Ramponi’s drawings were ultimately far more interesting than the resultant movie.
Ramponi even kept his hand in poster design throughout the 1980s, with the organizers of the international Holiday on Ice shows commissioning him to create their official posters several years in a row. Ramponi eventually retired in 1992 after having served many years as the head of the Roberto Rossellini Institute for Cinematography and Television’s animation department. The artist delighted readers in his day and continues to garner new admirers.
Ramponi the man also seems to have been admired and cherished by those who knew him, including several of his former students who have reached out to me in response to these new Lost Art Books collections. Mario Verger, who writes a lengthy introduction to Volume 1 of Kremos: The Lost Art of Niso Ramponi (the basis for much of what I know about Ramponi), has been a vocal champion of both the man and the artist.
Verger recounts in affectionate detail how as an animation student in the mid-1980s he had the good fortune to cross paths with and eventually be befriended by Federico Fellini, who in turn introduced the young aspirant to Ramponi. Verger has carried the torch for the rest of us ever since, beckoning us to pay attention to this unjustly forgotten master artist’s work.
To quote Verger’s introduction, “Ramponi loved art, especially Francisco Goya and Leonardo da Vinci...when he worked, he continuously listened to classical music: Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn were his preferred composers....He subscribed to a saying dear to Romans of his generation: ‘ Ma che me frega,’ that is, ‘ What do I care?’ reflecting a spirit of independence unencumbered by societal expectations.”
And there’s something telling about a daughter’s love. Anna Maria Ramponi, Niso’s oldest child, couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and encouraging about our plan to honor her father’s legacy in our Lost Art Books series. An ocean and a language may have separated us, but a shared affection for her father and his work transcended any barriers to understanding.
When Ramponi’s wife died in 2000, he moved from his beloved Rome to live out his last days with their daughter Anna Maria in the tranquil town of Bozzolo in the province of Mantova before eventually passing away himself in 2002 at age 78.
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.