Buy a copy of Poser and use the default male and female models for your poses. just use the different camera views to get that foreshortening thing. Perspective is just how you view things. Your vanishing points are created by where your eyes look. You look down the VP is down, up, the same, etc.
It's really not very hard, but people have convinced themselves that it is so they have a mental block about it.
As for pencils I wouldn't sweat it HB or F lead is best for finishes and a soft lead like no. 2 will do for layouts.check out the thread about reinvigorating PJ for my suggestion for a comic artists pack.