Progress is happening slowly but surely. The sequence bridging issues 1 and 2 is done and I am working on the 2 to 3 sequence, which includes this page.
Some technical tricks I have discovered regarding getting teeny-tiny lines that are different from the tricks Dave presents in SDOAR:
I did not like the Speedball Super-Black India ink I used in the four pages of my tryout. The black doesn't apply evenly. If you build the ink up to get a darker black it creates a shiny surface because the ink mixture has shellac added to the soot and water. This makes the dried surface durable and waterproof but gross to look at. So, I switched from India ink to Sumi ink.
Sumi ink uses animal glue rather than shellac.The ink applies much darker, and dries with a beautiful, silky finish. It also feels drier on the end of the brush. This means it does not flow as fast as the India ink. It is too thick for the Hunt 102 nib, but on the end of a Winsor Newton Series 7 #2 the slower flow gives you thinner lines for the same amount of pressure and speed. I began to suspect that part of Raymond's ability to get such thin lines was due to the type of ink he used.
Two weekends ago I went to the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University to check out their Comics In America show. The show was pretty disappointing. It was stuffed in what seemed like a cleaned out janitors closet and only had about twelve pieces, BUT, two of those were Milton Caniff Strips! These were OBVIOUSLY done in Sumi ink, or something like it.
The blacks were extremely dark, consistent, and silky, even after all these years. India ink tends to fade. This confirms that other major strip artists of the era were using something other than India ink. I haven't seen a Raymond or Williamson strips in person, so I don't know for sure about their work, but some of the Heritage Auction scans of Raymond's work do look like Sumi to me, especially the ones with lots of thin lines. Some of the looser strips do have washier, India ink looking, marks. Hard to tell for sure. Raymond might have been doing what I am doing, using Sumi for the brush and India for the nibs, sometimes using India on the brush for whatever reason.
Another trick I picked up a couple of pages back has helped me get smaller lines out of the nib while also affording me more control over the pen, so better accuracy and increased speed. It also preserves the nib tip for a little bit longer (not much).
I noticed that when hatching near the upper corners of pages the nib felt like it was gliding along the paper in a way it was not on the body of the page. It dawned on me that the paper in the corners wasn't flat on my board, which meant the paper was flexing under the pressure of the nib rather than the nib flexing pushing and flexing against the hard surface of the board. I started slightly lifting my paper up in whatever area I was hatching and, voila, the same thing happened. The pen glided along the surface. I could use more pressure, but get thinner lines. A boon for the wrist and elbow! So, if you are working in this very particular style with lots and lots of super fine nib lines, try lifting your paper off the board a smidge. I imagine Dave, and/or Ger, had to have figured this out at some point in the twenty years they were crosshatching the hell out of Cerebus.
The Cantor Museum also had a show of etchings and engravings, including a ton of Rembrandts. Talk about super tiny lines! the dude was a total stud.
Also, an artist named Jess, whose stuff reminded me a lot of the Cerebus in Hell? strips.