The way that I understand comics is the way that I always have until now. They are mostly small pamphlet books written for young children that were very popular about two decades ago. While this is when the comic "book" was popular there are also a lot of predecessors and post examples of what one might consider comics. I personally have always considered the Egyptian's wall paintings to be a sort of comic. The same goes in my mind for cave drawings. They are comics before our English language was established.
In the era of the great depression comics become wildly popular in a society that needed heroes that were ever strong. Strong examples to move forward and find the courage to do so. That's what I think the comics of that age did and how I see them. While they may have been marketed to young children, we all now that what our children see and consume parents follow suit. So comics bred the age of a new tomorrow and the hope that that tomorrow would be better for today.
Comics today are much more refined though. Much more "cult-ish" in many peoples minds. I frankly have done some manga reading and find it very enjoyable. But to be found reading that but many people is strange and out-casting. While the paper funnies still exist the written news is slowly dying out. More and more people are relying on the technology of our age to provide them with the entertainment and things that they need.
All in all I think that something that has lasted as long as comics have are going to last still much longer but our society needs to learn the value of something so simple, fun, and respectable.