Well, that was arduous. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I created custom panel layouts in Photoshop Elements and then figured out how to stick photos in the panels so that they wouldn’t overlap and/or block out other panels or photos.
I thoroughly frustrated myself in research about transparency, layer masks and clipping masks until I discovered that Elements has a Paste to Selection tool. I therefore just selected the interior of the desired panel with the Magic Wand tool, then copied my desired photo and Pasted to Selection.
After the photo is pasted, I can resize and reposition it, although this feature goes away as the panel and photo layers merge when I move to work on another panel. I’m sure there’s a way to Paste to Selection or its equivalent, while retaining the ability to resize and reposition the pasted photo, but this method suffices for now.
So here’s me experimenting with my new pages with the help of Jareth and Sardonix. I need to create custom shapes for speech bubbles with different orientations and also figure out how to make the bubbles default to white with black outlines and the text default to black, but, again, this suffices for now.