Gender: Unspecified Location: With Cinderella and the 9 Dwarves
I can't give you any advice on what program to use, however there's an interesting blog I follow which deals with someone learning how to make a comic from scratch, perhaps you would find it interesting:
I use Photoshop most of the time (I have CS4, and all of the stuff about CS5 has me bouncing off the walls with excitement), and sometimes OpenCanvas. I've also heard that Paint Tool SAI is a great program.
Painter is, as the name suggests, best for painting. I would suggest learning to use Photoshop and sticking with that. It's a complex program to be sure (I've been using it for nine years now), but it's the industry standard for a reason. Don't even bother messing with the filters or anything like that. All you need to learn to use to draw in Photoshop is the brush tool, and the various options available to it. That's it. Hell, simply by learning to do that and how to utilize layers, you can seriously do pretty much anything with Photoshop. It's not a powerful program because of the filters or anything like that, it is because of the sheer number of things you can do with the simple, basic tools it has.