Interview: “Chief O’Brien at Work” Creator Jon Adams On Chronicling The Ennui Of A Transporter Operator

When it comes to the Internet, Star Trek is the gift that keeps on giving, whether it’s the Picard facepalm meme, KHAAAAN!!!, It’s a Fake!, or what have you. To one artist in particular, Star Trek has been a gold-pressed latinum mine, inspiring an entire comic strip about “crappy jobs, space travel, and ennui.”

Jon Adams is the creator of Chief O’Brien at Work, an Internet strip that chronicles the joyless life of a transporter operator: a job that, by design, is all about helping other people go on adventures. Adam’s more than 160 strips about Miles cover a variety of topics – most of them bleak – such as obsolescence, being ignored by your co-workers, and your wife probably cheating on you with Commander Riker.

The cast of Jon Adams’ “Chief O’Brien At Work” comic strip

Adams recently sat down with TrekMovie to the story behind the story of Starfleet’s favorite enlisted man. (And by sat down I obviously mean we emailed. C’mon.)

When was the first time you realized that the comic value of Chief O’Brien might have been underestimated?

Just one day the idea occurred to me. I wasn’t watching Star Trek or anything, but for some reason Miles O’Brien found his way into my head, and I imagined how anytime a character wandered into the transporter room unannounced, someone was standing there waiting. And I thought about what a lonely, boring, useless, and ultimately hilarious job that must be, and decided to make a comic about it.

How long do you expect it will continue? 

I posted the first one in April of 2013 and then nine more after that. Then at the beginning of 2014 the strip gained a lot of traction on Buzzfeed and Reddit and I realized there was a large audience of people enjoying it, so I continued to do more. I’ll stop the strip when it stops being fun or I just run out of ideas of new ways to make Chief O’Brien’s life miserable.

Life can go slowly for Chief O’Brien in the transporter room (click to enlarge)

How much does this channel any sense of ennui you may yourself feel? 

Oh plenty. I think like any creative endeavor it’s a great catharsis. Most people reading the strip have probably had a job that filled them with despair at one point or another. I certainly have, so I’m able to draw on that as well as all the other tragedies one experiences in life.

Do you have a favorite issue of your work? 

Oh, got it. No, I don’t have a favorite episode of Chief O’Brien at Work. With over 160 of them it would be hard to pick just one.

O’Brien gets some help (click to enlarge)

Have you ever met Colm Meaney? 

I’ve never met Colm Meaney. I briefly considered going to see him at a convention in Vegas to show him the strip and ask him to write an introduction for the book, but I decided against it which worked out well because I think he ended up canceling his appearance. There was a fan of the strip who showed it to him and took photos of him looking at it, and he appeared to be smiling. That was a pretty great thing to see.

Do you have one favorite episode? 

My favorite episode of Star Trek: TNG is easily the two-parter where they go back in time to Earth and meet Mark Twain. As much fondness as I have for the show and the characters, I find a lot of episodes pretty unwatchable with so much expository dialogue and poor costume choices. But that particular story is so much fun and one of the most inventive of the series.

Do you have anything you’d like to promote?

The hardcover edition of The Enchanted Tiki Room which I wrote for Marvel just came out. I’ve got a few other things in the works that are too early to talk about, but I’m always writing, drawing, or designing things. The best place to see my newest work is at hisportfolio.com.

Chief O’Brien has his own little first contact (click to enlarge)

Catch up on all episodes of ChiefOBrienatWork.com.

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Thanks for making me aware of this. It’s hilarious!

Looks fun

I found the book at a comic store. It’s weird and hilarious

I suppose this is true for any transportation agent, just standing there all day watching others come and go, jetting off to far flung, exotic locales, or just renting a car on vacation. I’m sure O’Brien even has to deal with angry transportees who take it out on him …

I first saw this on Reddit a few months ago and lmao. It is really clever and fun. I love O’Brien but boy his job sucks lol.

Tiger2, thanks for saying this, because I was thinking the strip seemed eerily familiar …

Love those comics. Poor O’Brien.
Maybe one suggestion: you could put them on a facebook group so we can get the new ones in the feed without checking the website on a regular basis.

Oh good lord, the overuse of the word “hilarious”…I think my head might explode. Im still trying to figure out what is “hilarious” about his job and where the “hilarious” part is in the comics. Looks like typical irreverent Millennial humor to me.

Unclench Ted, and grow a sense of humor.

What does the phrase “Millenial humor” mean?

These are very funny! Is there a book available of the strips? BTW, why isn’t Hoshi among the cast of the strip?

Do you mean Keiko? If so, I’d imagine it’s because she’s off boinking Riker.

Probably the most underappreciated officer aside from Harry Kim. He went from a lt. senior grade on TNG to ensign or no rank at all on DS9. Made no sense. He should have made lt. cmdr. by then. Work flew past him in his career and that must have been depressing.

heheh — “ew, I did not care for that”

It really is funny.

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