I use the terms community and readers depending on the situation. The community is mostly the people who are involved and I interact with on a regular basis. They’re the regulars who actively support the comic and provide much needed encouragement, motivation, and more than enough distractions! The readers are the lurkers who enjoy the comic I make but don’t particularly comment or get any further involved- and that’s fine!
I like to avoid the term ‘fans’ cause I feel that implies that I’m above them in some way or that they’re some sort of follower/subject (and others may feel differently, and that’s fine!) - Readers just feels more of an equal term. I make the comic- they read the comic. Simple enough. I like to interact with the community and not be treated as someone special just cause I happen to make something they enjoy… that said, I do enjoy teasing people with cryptic responses/sentences about the story. Ahaha.
Many of my closest friends now are people I met because they happened to stumble on my work.