Dear Aunt Ora

I've recently graduated Devry's Evil Mastermind Correspondence School and would like to further my career as world tyrant. Where can I get good henchmen cheap?

No, no, no - that won't do at all, mister psychopathic megalomaniac. You are placing the cart before the horse. That is just so typical of your kind, if I may say so. Ever impatient to crush the human spirit beneath the oppressive yoke of your overweening ambition, you fail to do your preliminary preparations properly and invariably come unstuck further down the line when a plucky and resourceful secret agent breaches your defences.

So, before we get our henchmen, what do we have to do first? Come up with a good evil name for ourselves, of course! Nobody is going to follow Arthur Wrigglesworth of 33, Acacia Avenue, Purley, to the death and beyond, are they now?

Did Devry's cover naming? They didn't? Well really, what a shoddy outfit! Here's the basics, then. An evil mastermind's name comprises 4 elements:

  1. Title: Baron, Count, Professor and Colonel are good. Queen is okay for women, but just plain silly for men.
  2. First name: The rules are very specific here - it must be an Eastern European name. Good examples are Boris, Vladimir, Svjatoslav, Slobodan and Grothilda. If it's difficult to pronounce without spraying saliva over everyone within a six-foot radius, so much the better.
  3. Von (optional).
  4. Last name: The best evil surnames are monosyllabic and sound like they've been made up from Scrabble tiles taken at random out of a bag. Also, high value Scrabble letters like X and Q are good, and you should try and ensure that the 2nd or 3rd letter is always an R. Good examples are Drax, Kronj, Grob and Aargh. Zryxq is only good if you can place one of your tiles on a triple word value square.

All right, so you've got your evil name. The next step-- No, henchmen aren't the second step either. Next comes choosing your headquarters. These should be designed by the type of idiot architect responsible for the Millennium Dome or the Sydney Opera House, have a very extensive system of ventilation ducts large enough for a secret agent to walk through, and be located somewhere remote where the infrastructure is appalling, so you need an army of slaves just to get supplies to you. Say, in the Himalayas, under the sea, or in a geostationary orbit above Easter Island.

Now you-- No, henchmen are not next! Will you kindly shut up about the blessed henchmen already! I'll tell you when we get to henchmen, okay?

Now you pick your trusted right-hand man or woman. You may choose one of the two following types (but not both!):

  1. The muscular type: this person is eight feet across the shoulders and can crush beer cans with his eyelids, but regrettably has the IQ of the sort of slime mould that regularly has practical jokes played on it by the other slime moulds. This has the drawback that, no matter what task you set him, he will always mess it up. He is unable to hold secret agents captive for more than 20 seconds at a time. He also has the annoying habit of accidentally knocking things over, like tables, launch platforms, armoured personnel carriers, evil headquarters buildings, etc. On the plus side, you need never worry about forgetting the can opener.
  2. The cerebral type: unlike the previous type, this person's IQ is off the scale. He will run your entire operation for you, managing the accounts, the logistics, the computer network, the canteen menu and the deathray satellite, without ever figuring out that you are surplus to requirements and taking control himself. He usually has some sort of mechanical or cybernetic implant. His weak points are his bizarre psychosexual hang-ups, which secret agents of the appropriate sex/species can exploit to bring about his (and your) downfall. Also, his speech impediment may begin to grate after a while.

Right. Once you've got all those, THEN you can recruit your army of henchmen. I recommend Goons 'R Us. You should get a good price in the January sales.

Please find an invoice and a copy of our ethical policy statement attached.

S. Stojay
Delphic Research, Inc.

Ethical Policy:
Delphic Research, Inc., supplies information under the strictest ethical guidelines. Under no circumstances is this information to be used in the furtherance of acts likely to lead to any of the following(*):
a. breaches of the law
b. damage to the environment
c. racial disharmony
d. injury or financial loss to innocent parties
e. world conquest by an evil mastermind

(*) Unless you have first paid the $10,000 ethical waiver surcharge, in which case - hell! - do what you like.