The Allies liberated Italy, but not before bombing the animation facilities in which Ramponi worked, leaving the young Roman artist without a steady job.
It wasn’t long, however, before he found himself collaborating with another young cartoonist looking for a way to ply their shared trade in the upended capital city. For a couple of years Ramponi had been chumming around with fellow cartoonist Federico Fellini (seen below), and when the future filmmaker hatched a plan to open the Funny Face Shop to sell caricatures to the occupying U.S. soldiers, Ramponi was happy to take part in the enterprise.
Not too long after, Fellini’s friendship with Roberto Rossellini started opening doors for the aspiring filmmaker. In 1945, Fellini pitched the idea for an animated short that would accompany Rossellini’s latest production, Rome Open City. When the producers approved the idea, Fellini immediately pulled in Ramponi and their mutual friend Luigi Giobe to head up the animation team that would work on a short titled, Hello Jeep!
After months of work, new producers took over the financing of the Rossellini film, and unfortunately they immediately halted production on the nearly finished cartoon.
But if one opportunity was trampled mid-bloom, others quickly sprung up from the rubble of post-war Rome for the young Ramponi. Besides finding other animation jobs, Ramponi tried his hand at various syndicated newspaper comic strips (Le Prodezze di Hamedin, Ivo il Primitivo, etc.).
By the late 1940s, Ramponi also found himself in high demand as a movie poster and lobby card artist for both Italian productions...
... as well as the likes of Walt Disney, who was only then able to start releasing many of his studio’s movies in Italy.
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.