Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop.
I absolutely love it. Version 7 comes with ImageReady 7, which is designed for web graphics. Though, if you are primarily interested in web graphics, have you considered Macromedia Fireworks? It’s considered to be quite excellent, though I don’t know how it compares to Photoshop/ImageReady 7, which just came out about 2 weeks ago. (Yes, I already have version 7. I am a pre-ordering geek.)
I used to use PSP, and even got a popular book teaching me how to make web graphics with PSP. I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I mean, I thought I liked PSP and I did use it a lot (scanning in pictures, fixing contrast and color casts, etc.) But I NEVER could figure out some of the more “advanced” stuff, even with an instructional book. Perhaps this had something to do with me having an energy-sucking job (ex-job now, thankfully) that left me beaten and exhausted at the end of each day. But then again, I doubt that the job is completely to blame because I taught myself how to use a computer and HTML while working at that same job. I just couldn’t learn PSP. YMMV.
My opinion of Photoshop is that it’s more logical and easier to learn, on one level. However, Photoshop is a huge, deep program, and you’ll probably never learn it all. But even when I knew very little about it, I was able to make some really fun digital artwork with it. (Check out the site I have listed in my profile. Most of the digital art on there was done when I was still a Photoshop “newbie”.) Also, Photoshop is clearly the “industry standard”, and is a marketable skill. You may never need to worry about that, but because it is an Industry Standard, there are TONS more books, instructional videos, support websites, you name it, dedicated to Photoshop. (Not that you sound like you’ll get that geeky over any graphics program, but it is nice to know that the support is there, if you ever need it.) Heck, Photoshop even has its own organization, NAPP, (which includes an excellent magazine that is just about Photoshop!) Yes, I’m a member of NAPP. (sigh)
If you can’t afford Photoshop, try Photoshop Elements (which is about the same price as PSP). It’s a very nice graphics program too, and is obviously related to Photoshop (so a lot of the support for Photoshop would apply for Elements too). The thing I love A LOT about PS and PS Elements is that they have these “styles”, pre-sets that you can design yourself, or download. Apply a “style” to some text, or a graphic shape, and it’ll automatically take on the appearance of the “style”. (One pre-set “style” I love is a “metallic” style, that will make your text metallic looking with one click of a mouse! You can create your own “styles” (specific shading and coloring effects) and then save it for later. I use this on all my web sites. I name the “style” after my web site, so that when I want to add more web graphics to that site later, the “style” is waiting for me. Easy easy easy.