New service Comic Cartel thinks outside (and about) the box

Mail-order comics services have been around for decades, but with the Internet they've grown by leaps and bounds. Still, when you put together the words "online" and "comics," many people naturally think digital, but a new online mail-order business is putting print -- and comics as a physical product -- squarely into the limelight.

Launched earlier this summer, Comic Cartel has the standard offerings of other online mail-order services, with the ability to shop for individual issues and graphic novels, as well to create subscriptions. But what sets Comics Cartel apart is its attention to detail when it comes to comics as a physical object -- one worthy of high care and exceptional packaging.

In Comic Cartel's Minneapolis headquarters, comics are handled with white gloves -- literally -- from the moment they arrive from Diamond Comic Distributors until they depart in a sealed box.

And those aren't standard shipping  boxes; they're akin to classic record boxes, and their design is far above what we've come accustomed to. Each box fits approximately 15 comics, and Comic Cartel promises that future editions will be designed by "top industry designers." There also will be limited-edition boxes by "famous comic book illustrators."

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