We study in detail the strong-field QED process of nonlinear Compton scattering in short intense plane wave laser pulses of circular polarization. Our main focus is placed on how the spectrum of the backscattered laser light depends on the shape and duration of the initial short intense pulse. Although this pulse shape dependence is very complicated and highly nonlinear, and has never been addressed explicitly, our analysis reveals that all the dependence on the laser pulse shape is contained in a class of three-parameter master integrals. Here we present completely analytical expressions for the nonlinear Compton spectrum in terms of these master integrals. Moreover, we analyse the universal behaviour of the shape of the spectrum for very high harmonic lines.