I was thinking more along the lines of a separate replies loop, but has_replies and last_reply conditions would work equally well. Also, doing it that way (with these additional conditions) instead wouldn't break everyone else's layouts, which my original idea would have done.
The conditional construct available allows only for the comments and the replies to be placed at the same level of nesting in the final DOM tree, as the comments and replies are handled in the same loop.
Is there a way to restructure such that replies will be nested within the comment <div> to which they are replies? This would be extremely useful for styling purposes in the CSS, as well as making more semantic sense.
Robotwin.com:Which linux distro, or OS in general, is the best for webcomics and desktop publishing? Is it best to start having everything you need pre-installed like gimp, inkscape, xara xtreme, scribus, etc? (so you know the distro people have tested it and made sure it works, is stable)
Generally, you don't need any of that preinstalled. That's why you have a package manager. The software you've mentioned will be available in the repositories for practically every distro, so in this case it isn't going to matter which you pick.