I'm still using that Photoshop CS2 that they were giving away for "free" a few years back...
With digital art tools, most of it is money with me. I would probably use them if I had them, but I don't. Although, I have to say I prefer having a large piece of paper in front of me instead of trying to draw while looking at a smallish monitor. As I've gotten older, I've taken to drawing on bigger pieces of paper, also...it's been more difficult to scan, but I prefer the freedom to roam with my hand across a larger canvas.
Man, I haven't used CS2 in years. I had a friend that supplied me a key generator just so that I can try that particular version out on my old desktop computer. That version of Photoshop was extremely reliable, the filters were great, and it's stiil an all around good Photoshop product.
And yeah, I tried drawing on a tablet when I first entered the digital realm with a small Wacom Bamboo a few yeas ago. I know they have Cintiqs and the like available nowadays that are light years above the Bamboo, but it still feels weird drawing when I'm using something like that. I guess one can get used to the feel and overall process of the software, but like you, nothing beats a good old piece of paper and a good pencil. My hat's off to those of you who have embraced the digital medium, you're far more patient than I am for sure.
But there's just something about a traditional medium that is still relevant today. It's a tangible piece of something that you can hold in your hand and change into whatever you want to. Coupled with the skill to use any kind of pencil or eraser to your advantage, and you can really crank out some serious work with enough experience under your belt.
And yes, paper sizes are getting much cheaper to buy. Working on a range of 8x11, to legal 8x14 (which is what I used on the drawing above and the La Blue Girl drawing) to the industry standard 11x17 will greatly benefit your freedom to draw. The larger format 11x17 paper looks extremely intimidating at first when you start to draw on it, but before long, you have this amazing image in front of you that you can be proud of.
Artists like Frank Cho and Steve McNiven work on 19x24 pieces of cardstock. That's like poster sisze paper, man. Maybe I'll revisit that size, too.
They have good large format scanners available in case you''d like to invest in one down the road. I have an Epson WorkForce 7620 that scans up to 11x17 size, and it works great so long as you don't go too crazy on the printing. It has this annoying ding to remind you when the ink cartridge is low, but at least it doesn't hinder, or completely stop the scanner from working like other all-in-one printers do, when it asks for a refill. If you're working on large format paper like that, I recommend that scanner if you want to catalog your work and turn your drawings into digital TIFF files.