At work, I've been put in charge of creating graphic promotional e-mails. The framework we use to create these little newsletters reminds me a lot of livejournal. There are lots of templates you can fiddle around with, but it really, really helps to know a little HTML.
One of the girls I work with gave me a Hypertext study guide to reference while I'm fighting with the code. I really like this guide for two reasons. One, my personal helper on this formatting journey is a little cartoon pig in steel-toed boots and a denim jumpsuit. He has a sweet von dutch trucker hat, toolbelt, and a nametag that says "HTML" on it. He helps me out by equating everything to being an auto mechanic. Transparent GIFs? Why, that's just like a car overheating! Setting up a project folder is also basically identical to stacking some tires, why not.
The second reason I like the guide is that the sample website they use for examples is a very lame Lord of the Rings fan page. One screen cap reads as follows:
Aragorn - The King Returns
In Tolkien's epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings, Isildur's heir was Aragorn, in whose veins two or three thousand years worth of old Numenorean blood ran true. Wow!
It's too bad that mylordoftheringssite.com doesn't really exist, so you could see the terrible formatting (a picture right in the middle of a sentence? Whatever you say Mr. Pig.) and awkward assertions made by this super fan (AKA "email@example.com") like - "Saruman was really the progressive of the two", and calling Gandalf "diabolical".
I tried to find a bad angelfire site that would be a good approximation. This is probably the closest I'm going to get.