Hey, Thankee, Matt! I'm not good at teaching others how to draw, but the main trick to the funky noir-like shading thing bit is to figure out where the shadows would fall, make the edges of said shadows funky, and remove most of the outlines past that. Phinn WAS drawn completely with her face outlines and the funky shadows on paper before the comic hit the scanner, then I removed most of the outlines in post-production.
I'm just hoping that helps, because I'm horrible at explaining these sorts of things. :-)
As for what was going on... I'm not telling. Fnar. You'll have to wait and see. :-) (about two or three years)
One of the comics in the Lucien's Letter sequence I named "Nobody'll Believe Me..." for a reason, and you'll find out why later. Much later. Has to do with what Phinn saw in the chest.