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For something that is supposed to be two tons of fun, Comic-Con appears to have been a source of crushing self doubt for Anthony E. Zuiker. Sure, he created the CSI franchise, but he’s branching out on his own with Level 26, his new “digi-novel” that combines an analog book with online video. Zuiker wrote about his traumatic Comic-Con on in a blog post:
So, without warning, I sat down to give away some Marc Ecko custom-made Level 26 themed t-shirts. I sat there for five minutes and nobody came by. Not a one. I started to slowly die inside. As I looked across the way, I saw the Twilight booth was packed with fans snapping up fan buttons. Here I was, the creator of the CSI franchise giving away $80 t-shirts and I had no takers – while Twilight was hemorrhaging buttons to happy rabid fans. This is when I realized: it doesn’t matter what I’ve done in television. You, Anthony E. Zuiker, are unproven with the Comic-Con crowd.
His panicking is even more understandable as you read on to learn that he’s put $1 million of his own money into Level 26 (he put all of the advance from the publisher into the project, and shot the videos for under $200,000). But if Zuiker was nervous during our video interview, he didn’t show it. During our chat I learned exactly how the digi-novel experience will work, the grim details of what people can expect to see (the book’s about a serial killer, after all), and how he hooked up with the EQAL guys to get it all done.