I also sometimes read them. It depends on if I'm up to date on a comic, or if I don't get what's going on, or I just really, really like the comic and like the author's comments.
I also like to check them for updates.
If I'm really behind on a comic, and I'm reading a large chunk, I often don't read the comments if I'm deeply immersed (sometimes, I nom nom nom consume consume XD) But if I'm caught up and just checking that week's page, I will often read the comment and sometimes respond.
I also am more likely to read an authors' comment if I'm going to leave my own comment. I'm scrolling by it, so I might as well :3
I try, but often forget. They're usually worth reading, but easy to overlook, because my focus is on the page. Especially as most of the time I'm binging, either on one comic, or else on updates from multiple comics.
It's so satisfying though when I do remember to read the author comments and it's something good, or I can leave a nice reply. Conversation matters!
I always read them, and try to always write my own too. I find they make a creator feel a lot more approachable, to me. I dunno, when a comic doesn't have them, I find it makes the author seem a lot more aloof? Especially when they don't reply to comments either.
I read the author comments on updates, and if I'm archive-diving and the author writes interesting comments. A lot of the comments aren't really worth bothering with, even on some good comics. I hate mouse-overs.
My readers say they enjoy them and find the reminders I include in these comments very handy. My comic is over 5 years old, so it's easy to forget something if you're not binge reading, so I remind, with links, where we've seen someone/something before if it's important at the moment.
According to my counter, new readers spend about 20 seconds on each page, so obviously, they don't read the comments.
I rarely do, though it depends upon the creator's use of them.
I'm not a fan of "the explanation or punchline is in the author's comment" setups. The comic should stand alone and be self-contained, in my opinion. I do appreciate, though, when an author provides a reminder in the event the page refers to something so long back that readers probably forgot.
As an author myself, I generally assume readers skip my comments and do not put much effort into them. I do sometimes use them to provide a little news. Any big news that I want readers to definitely see gets posted as a comic page, to ensure that even the never-read-author-comments readers can catch it.
I do everytime. The Author comments are a doorway into the creators comic, and life. There are times that a little blurb has told me that the comic is going on hiatus(I definitely comment then too haha). I've even witnessed creators baring their woes in the author comment section which can also lead to uplifting and inspiring conversations.