If animated TV series “Mike Tyson Mysteries” is “Scooby-Doo” on acid, then the second season was even wackier, with an abundance of fun celebrities and bizarre creatures to design.
This season, character designer Dusty Abell’s task of trying to “simplify real people that we are all familiar with” was combined with a “wider variety of characters. It’s a surprising balance of crass and smart in dealing with pop culture and political satire.”
Abell already had his hands full with the Mystery team: the eponymous Mike Tyson, profane and oblivious (voiced by the former boxer); the alcoholic and obnoxious Pigeon (Norm Macdonald); Tyson’s 18-year-old adopted daughter, Yung Hee Tyson (Rachel Ramras), who resembles “Scooby-Doo’s” Velma; and the haughty ghost of Marquess of Queensberry, the father of modern boxing (Jim Rash).
For Tyson, Abell took inspiration from the Muhammad Ali and Mr. T cartoons of the ’70s and ’80s, and was pleasantly surprised by Tyson’s voice acting ability. Of course, Tyson’s boxing prowess came in handy when interacting with his intellectual sidekick, John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry.
“He was telling me all about the rules of the old sport and how it evolved over time,” said Abell. “And he was very knowledgeable about the real man and what he brought to the fight game. And Jim Rash had once written a blog about programming 24 hours of Saturday morning cartoons. His take on ’70s and ’80s conventions was fascinating.”
For the episode “Ogopogo!,” which tells Pigeon’s backstory of being human and having a spell put on him by his ex-wife, the eponymous sea monster proved a fun design challenge. “The show called for a haunted lake and a river monster,” Abell said. “And I had no idea they were drawing from legend and lore, so I watched a whole documentary about the Ogopogo monster. It’s the Lake Michigan version of the Loch Ness monster.”
The episode in which Snoop Dogg starts a rival Mystery team (“Unsolved Situations”) provided a different challenge for Abell: “His hair was originally done in little pixie twirls, but the Dogg team had one request: that he look as he does now with tight braids.”