John Putnam

John Putnam
June 21st, 1917, New York City, USA
November 29th, 1980, Munich, Germany
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Press release on the death of John Putnam in 1980



John Francis Putnam, art director of MAD magazine since l954,died Saturday, November 29, 1980 in a Munich, Germany hospital from medical complications brought on by pneumonia. Mr. Putnam had traveled to Munich in October with the MAD staff for their annual autumn field trip.
"Until John came to us, MAD was just a comic book," said William M. Gaines, publisher of the humor magazine distributed worldwide. "He was an expert in typography and magazine production and is responsible for the distinctive "look" MAD has."
Born in New York City on June 21, 1917, John Putnam lived most of his boyhood in Europe. His mother, Nina Wilcox Putnam, was a novelist and screen play writer. Her credits include the original screen play for the horror classic "The Mummy".
Prior to joining MAD, Mr. Putnam had his own freelance art studio. He did extensive package design for United Fruit Company.
"John Putnam was much more than an art director in the traditional sense," said MAD's editor Albert Feldstein. "His total enthusiasm for MAD embodied the spirit of the magazine. He sat in on every editorial conference and contributed tremendously to the whole attitude of humor in the magazine."
Besides his work for MAD, Mr. Putnam was a writer and artist with a wide range of interests. He was an expert of international reputation on military history, and all types of miniature modeling. He was a familar sight on Madison Avenue near the MAD offices sporting a beret decorated
with an ever changing variety of carefully selected badges. For the special trip to Europe he had worn the badge of the Greek Imperial Merchant Marine.
As a fine artist his major works were in wood sculpture and painted paper constructions he called "Mind Gardens." He had a number of gallery shows in recent years in Greenwich Village and Soho. His offbeat essays were a regular feature in "The Realist" and other esoteric humor magazines.
"He never went to college" said William Gaines, but he knew everything. He was a voracious reader. He joined MAD as a $75 a week temporary employee and was the oldest member of the staff both in age and time with the magazine."
Mr. Putnam was a humanist who cared greatly for people. Having successfully participated in the Alcoholics Annonymous program himself, he volunteered a great deal of time in helping others in AA.
He is survived by his widow Jane of New York City and their child, Jared Israel Putnam, named for Mr. Putnam's Revolutionary War ancestor General Israel Putnam. He also is survived by his children from a former marriage, Robert Putnam of Stockbridge, Mass.; Peter Putnam and Pamela Allard of Great Barrington, Mass.; and two grandchildren, Darren Wilcox Allard and Jeniffer Leigh Allard.
Mr. Putnam's remains were cremated in Germany.
There will be a memorial service for John Putnam at 11 a.m. on Monday, December 8, 1980 at the Warner Communications Building, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, on the third floor.

Contributions by John Putnam

USA • MAD Magazine (New York)
  • Statement of Ownership (Writer)
MAD Magazine #37January 1958
MAD Magazine #82October 1963
  • Does This Ad Look Blurred to You? (Artist)
  • Cover Artist
  • Cover: This Country Is Out of Order (Cover Artist)
  • Cover Artist
  • Front Cover (Cover Artist)
MAD Magazine #163December 1973
  • Cover Artist
  • Cover: Mad is a Four-Letter Word (Cover Artist)
MAD Magazine #195December 1977
  • Art Director
MAD Magazine #196January 1978
  • Art Director
  • Associate Art Director
MAD Magazine #201September 1978
  • Art Director
MAD Magazine #203December 1978
  • Art Director
USA • MAD Magazine (California)
Great Britain • MAD Magazine
  • Cover Artist
MAD Magazine #143February 1974
  • Cover Artist