To-day, I read my first ever " real " comic book (i. e., from the Big Two) with only 18 pages of story!!!!!!!!! VENOM #8. I'd had it for a bit, didn't read it til' to-day, with #9 wsaiting in my bag...It's a 24-page comic book, 6 pages of " other " (2 pages of lettercol!!!!!!!!!). A BETTY & VERONICA one-shot I had recently but got stolen:-( had even less interior pages (20), but more story pages (all 20) ~ but it was $2.99. Sheeesshh!
...I mean , of course, " modern-era " funnybook
...It was, of course, 17 pgs story for much of the Seventies...and I do recall a couple?? DCs that took it down further, to16&1/2!!!!!!!!!!!
Picking a comic at random (Amazing Spider-Man #173-Oct77), I see that the cover price was 30 cents.
If I could go back in a time machine I would tell the Big Two that artificially holding the issue prices down while cutting story pages was self-defeating. Not only were they driving readers away by giving them less, but they were holding down the profit-per-issue that ultimately caused the newsstand retailers to rebel. Their shelf space was being wasted by things that were no longer profitable. If not for the advent of the direct market the industry would have died then. The direct marketing to specialty comic stores has, IMO, resulted in a dangerously shrinking readership. No impulse buying from newsstands and drug stores causes most people to never start reading comics.
Not only were most comics down to 17 pages in the late '70s, but they were also using the dreaded Flexographic printing process. Rather than using silver-backed plates on the press, they used plastic substitutes -- which resulted in melted, wavy lines.
I remember watching with horror. Oh, the humanity.