In 1948 Ramponi found the perfect venue for his talents at the weekly satirical magazine Il Travaso (roughly The Overflow) and its equally irreverent sibling Il Travasissimo.
It was in these sometimes-confiscated periodicals that Ramponi made his name drawing some of the world’s best “good girl” art for 15 years, and where he was bequeathed a variety of nicknames.
His editors dubbed him The Scarlet Pimpernel born from a frustration of never knowing where Ramponi could be found, especially when deadlines loomed.
His fellow staff artists dubbed him Sovrano di Donnine, or King of the Little Ladies, for the curvaceous comic beauties he excelled at drawing in nearly every issue. Below is a video of Ramponi and his cartoonist colleagues at Il Travaso in the 1950s promoting a reader's poll to choose which staff artist's drawing of feminine beauty should be crowned "Miss Travaso."
As contemporary cartoonist Jerry Carr describes in the foreword to Volume 2 of Kremos: The Lost Art of Niso Ramponi, “Kremos’ s work reminds us of the layouts of Hank Ketcham, the polish of Bill Ward, the humor of Dan DeCarlo, and the grace of Jack Cole—while exemplifying something entirely original."
It was in these early years at Il Travaso that Ramponi met his wife, married in 1950, and started a family shortly thereafter.
Throughout the 1950s, Ramponi not only supplied a steady stream of weekly gag panels to Il Travaso, but he also occasionally contributed pin-up drawings to other periodicals, such as SignorinaOtto, accepted assignments for more movie poster work, and worked as an animator on numerous Italian productions, including I Picchiatelli (1952) and Attanasio Cavallo Vanesio (1953).
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.