GIMPing my way along
Hopefully by tonight I will have finished the first tutorial book of GIMP and get around to using of the online tutorials. At this stage with GIMP I am a convert, a blissful radical. GIMP does its job BETTER than anything else out there. ITS job. GIMP is a graphics editting tool and made for rasters and although it has countless plugins that is its main focus and its focus. Just because it can do other things doesn't mean it should be judged comparitively to Illustrator - Photoshop yes.
My first forays with GIMP was 2002 and without any graphics experience etc it was impossible to get my head around or do anything with it. The new GIMP has progressed a lot and as with a lot of user designed software the shortcuts and usability is not designed for people who have came from a specific program but for the idea of basic human ergnamoics. GIMP is simple and quick to use - when you can do it. Its selection and mask facilities are without doubt its forte, but then I suppose its customisable and massive libraries of scripts and filters could be said to be its forte.
Anyway with that I'll leave be. GIMP works so long as you can understand the graphical manipulation. Its better to get a GIMP book that describes how GIMP works with graphics and then play around with things rather than by trying to dummy your way into as is much easier to do in programs such as Photoshop.
My suggestion is the book / website Grokking the Gimp