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.
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.
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.
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.
Catch up on all episodes of ChiefOBrienatWork.com.