It’s a fair question; here’s my answer. I suppose that, by definition, not encountering something means one misses out on that thing. However, I look at other people’s work as a matter of course during the workday, and examine it critically, since looking carefully is part of my job, but this is not the same as reading for pleasure, which in my case, since I spend 6-10 hours a day immersed in comics, takes other forms. As for inspiration, I have never looked to comics exclusively to call up the muse, and indeed, find that looking elsewhere is often more beneficial anyway. Telling a story with pictures is mostly about problem-solving; regardless of the quality and quantity of the work of my peers, I need to know how I need to solve those problems, not how someone else did.
I like this Immortal Technique video. “I’m not really that proud of you because drugs sell themselves”