John Putnam

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John Francis Putnam (June 21, 1917[1] – November 1980) was the art director and designer of Mad over three decades, from the 1950s to 1980.

Putnam, the son of the novelist-playwright Nina Wilcox Putnam, also drew occasional cartoons for Mad, and he was a contributor to Paul Krassner's The Realist.

In 1954, he scripted the story "Dien Bien Phu!" for EC Comics' Two-Fisted Tales No. 40 (December 1954 – January 1955).[2]

Putnam, a photographer and a collector of classical French literature, lived in the West Village. He was friends with Diane Arbus, and they sometimes took photographs together at the Hudson River docks. He recalled, "Diane and I often talked about France. She couldn't get over the fact that I stlll spoke French like a native. Sometimes I'd translate Proust for her, or Charles Trenet lyrics. She told me she'd had a French nanny as a kid and had once believed she spoke French fluently, but no longer could remember a word of it."[3]

During a Mad staff trip to Germany in 1980, Putnam died of pneumonia.


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed March 19, 2013), John Putnam, November 1980.
  2. ^ Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Bosworth, Patricia. Diane Arbus: A Biography, W.W. Norton, 1984.