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Paducah man sells comic books for $1.5 million

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

A Paducah man saw an investment come to fruition this week when he auctioned a large collection of comic books and other memorabilia.

John Wise, a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual in Paducah, sold the items - which he said included 175 comic books and 25 or so other items - through ComicConnect, an online auction house. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the proceeds from the auction totaled $1.5 million.

According to the Associated Press, the top seller from the collection of Golden Age comics was "Flash #1" - the 1940 comic book featuring the first appearance of the Flash - for $182,000; issues featuring the first appearances of Superman and Batman went for $172,000 and $137,000, and an issue of the first-ever Marvel comic book sold for $95,000.

The auction ended Tuesday and Wise, who splits his time between Paducah and San Diego, Calif., said Wednesday that he didn't yet know the total proceeds for the auction, but he knew some of the comics had sold for more than $100,000 and he'd taken the day to relax and enjoy some golf in the California sun.

"They sold for quite a bit," Wise said. "And it was a great auction, and a great experience."

Wise estimated it would be about 12 months before he knows exactly how much he has made from the auction. The financial representative explained that it could be about a year before all the winning bidders have paid for their items, and he has to pay a commission to the auction house, grading fees for the comic books and income taxes before he'll know exactly what he has made on the collection.

Wise, who has three daughters and seven grandchildren between 4 months old and 9 years old, said whatever he ends up making from the auction will eventually be invested into his grandchildren's futures.

"That's my plan. To fund my grandchildren's education," Wise said. "I think it's a pretty cool thing. You get old, you start thinking about your legacy."

Wise said his days collecting the kinds of comic books sold in this week's auction are likely over.

"I'm at the point now, for me to buy the kinds of comic books that I would like to have, that it costs so much money that it takes all the fun out of it," Wise said. "It's easier for me not to worry about it."

However, Wise said he would likely still collect some "fun stuff that isn't the most expensive," including comic books, superhero toys and movie posters.

"You never quit collecting once you're a collector," Wise said.

While Wise's days collecting rare, expensive comic books may be over, he said he enjoyed the time he spent collecting them and that they were a good investment. He said the current popularity of comic books made this the right time to sell, and Wise said he feels fortunate that he was able to buy high quality comic books and that every item in the auction was sold.

"(ComicConnect) did a good job, and the timing was right to sell these comic books, and the market was strong," Wise said.

"I hope the new owners will enjoy them as much as I have," the collector added.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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