For the free options I would say start with Gimp, +1 to that program. Its pretty much your all-in-one program for raster graphics manipulation. You can compare it to photoshop in the amount of options, even though there ARE important differences (I use both at times, nothing beats the cimplicity of the "Color to transparency option in
A low cost programs I really like is Manga Studio / Clip Studio Paint. Its not only ideal for comic drawing, thanks to its pen stabilization its ideal for painting on a tablet with a crappy digitizer (for example the earlier Surfaces with the Wacom digitizers).
+1 on getting a Wacom Tablet. Although I use Cintiqs and can really recommend them, the cost is very high. Have a look at their Wacom Bamboo line, its a beginner tablet with a matching price tag. I heard a lot of good things about it.
Learning Art is the tricky part. If you have already some kind of talent or expierience, practice, practice, practice.
If you lack any talent or expierience, then you might want to start with some kind of course first.
The art school in my hometown does some art courses for everyone to subscribe to. Some of them are beginnerlevel. Although the quality is varying, a good course can teach you a lot (even more than with other topics, art courses depend extremly on how good the teacher is. Some are incredible artist, but can't teach sh**. Some were just to artsy for my liking (well, I am an engineer, so what would you expect I guess )). Prices usually were rather low.
If you have no possibility to attend a brick-and-mortar course, next best options would be online courses. Sadly I cannot give you a good resource here... other than pointing out that Youtube is filled to the brim with videos about the topic "learn to draw".
Edited by Gian-Reto, 15 August 2014 - 12:21 AM.