At the end of this month, chums, we lose one of the people who has been absolutely responsible for helping build this particular corner of the internet from a place that was barely frequented to one that got a little more popular.
Ryan Lambie, then. I want to talk about him, as we bid him on his way.
Back in the dim and distant past, and – genuinely – to our shame, we used to not pay writers. This was in the very infancy of the site, but no excuse. We did mitigate this by using what money we had to go and take writers out for curry and drinks. Crucially, too, we’ve learned from those mistakes and tried desperately to make amends ever since. But still, for the point of this story, one of the people who approached us was a young man called Ryan.
Ryan was, at the time, working in something a bit more nine to five-y, and he loved videogames. He enquired about writing, and duly started a weekly gaming column that was – I know this sounds all mushy, but it’s true – a joy to read and work with. It’d barely needed any editing (help yourself to your gags, chums), and Ryan had a knack of finding offbeat, interesting stories that even us gamers on the team were not familiar with.
Ryan came along to one or two of the curry/drinks nights, bringing the brilliant Sarah with him (who, from what I can make out, he tells of one in every two of his videogame collectable purchases). He sat at the end of the table, and so I sidled over to have a word.
I didn’t know at that point, as you never do, but that moment began what’s become one of the richest (not in monetary terms, sadly. He’s still tight) friendships I’ve had in my life. Because we just talked a bit, got to know each other a bit, and I realised that I was sat in front of an incredible movie brain.
It was about a year later that Den Of Geek got to a point where we could bring someone in full time. I thus rang Ryan one day – I believe he remembers the call – and asked him if he was interested. A few days later, we met at a coffee shop on Tottenham Court Road. It would be fair to say that Ryan was shitting himself slightly. What I never told him was that so was I. Could we really get him to work with us? Would we be fortunate enough?
Ryan said yes. And what follows has been an extraordinary eight years, where a man who was shyly sitting at the end of a table at the start of a decade, has at the end of it written thousands of pieces for Den Of Geek, interviewed hundreds of people, put his heart and soul into his words, and occasionally over-stepped the mark by attacking my Kevin Costner obsession. But it’s not a time to dwell on such things.
Instead, I’m both gutted and thrilled. Sad that my day to day working life will be Lambie-less. Thrilled for the opportunities that lie ahead of him.
Lord, we have a book of stories on him, though.
He once interviewed Denzel Washington for the film Unstoppable, and managed to commend him on his stunt badger, for a start. He was the man who, at the Den Of Geek quiz nights, concocted the games we’d play near the end. I can assure you that the Alien Covenant Fingering Challenge was far more family friendly than it may sound. I think, too, even Ryan might concede that the prop ark of the covenant he made for one quiz may have had too much glitter on it. As the quiz ended, a good half dozen people stumbled onto the streets of London as if they’d come through a time portal from the 70s.
But then there have been his words. His commitment and desire to not do filler material. To try and find an angle. His interviews, where in a room with big stars and directors, he’d follow an offbeat thread and see where it led. The reviews where he knew he was going against general opinion, and thus got nervous about putting them live, but knew it was his honest opinion, and the right thing to do. The sheer consistency and high standard. The quite awful jokes.
What you don’t know is that some of his most amazing work was done against a backdrop of very, very difficult moments. He won’t thank me for saying this, but knowing what Ryan has had to battle, and to still get words onto a page? Well, I’m humbled, really. Personally, I wish the little sod had been 20% worse, just to give the rest of us a cha… sorry, just segued there.
If you want more of Ryan’s writing, I encourage you to seek out his wonderful The Geek’s Guide To SF Cinema, a love letter to the films that he adores, with a view on introducing them with no snobbery at all to people who haven’t seen them. You can find him on Twitter too, @ryanlambie.
We’re really, really sad that he’s off. He’s been a friend, colleague and backbone of support for me personally, and I can comfortably speak for myself, Louisa, Rosie, Kirsten, Elizabeth and many of us behind the curtains of Den Of Geek in saying we’re going to miss having him around.
Ryan: the best in everything you do. You couldn’t spot a good Costner film if it smacked you on the arse. But you’re one of my favourite writers and human beings on planet Earth. In whatever you do next, go get ‘em, Lambie…