Crowdfunding Spotlight: Big Shoulders, by John Dudley and Scott Gray

Big Shoulders is a new comic that’s just launched its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, described as an “urban fantasy” by its creators, John Dudley and Scott Gray. The team kindly gave downthetubes a sneak peek at some of the pages, and we definitely felt it deserves your attention…

Big Shoulders #1 - Cover by Scott Gray

Set in Chicago, it showcases several storylines that intertwine in unexpected ways, all featuring normal people who encounter the extraordinary – expect to see immortals, aliens, dragons, FBI agents, sinister AI, and a struggling rock band that may play the last concert humanity ever sees.

Big Shoulders #1 by John Dudley and Scott Gray, coloured by Faz Choudhury, lettered by ES Kay (2024)
Big Shoulders #1 by John Dudley and Scott Gray, coloured by Faz Choudhury, lettered by ES Kay (2024)
Big Shoulders #1 by John Dudley and Scott Gray, coloured by Faz Choudhury, lettered by ES Kay (2024)

John was inspired to write the series, now seeking crowdfunding support, after moving to Chicago, back in 2007. 

“There’s a welcoming quality to this town that doesn’t get enough credit,” he says. “There isn’t the sense of ownership common in other regions or other large cities. You can really be ‘from’ Chicago almost on day one, you don’t have to earn it or spout off your bonafides like you might in London, New York or Texas. My own life experience has inspired elements of Big Shoulders. The three primary protagonists in this story are all recent transplants to the city, looking to build their dreams.”

The comic’s title comes from a line in Carl Sandburg’s poem, Chicago. “The ‘city of crossroads’ is one of Chicago’s nicknames,” John says. “It’s the rail capital of the US, has one of the most travelled-through airports, a network of major highway arteries, etc. It’s just a damn big town, with wide shoulders that can carry all these journeymen and women. This story tries to capture the essence of Chicago’s crossroad journeys and big dreaming.

“The fact that Scott has never been to Chicago is a fun wrinkle,” he continues. “It reminds me of how Sergio Leone’s westerns, shot in Spain, were the absolute best of the genre, because he created such a unique fantasy version of the wild west that wasn’t so burdened by ‘reality’. You’ll see much of the ‘real’ Chicago in Big Shoulders; all the landmarks are there, but this city is an open road; it’s a blank canvas. We’re going to chronicle a few journeys across the page.”

Big Shoulders #1 by John Dudley and Scott Gray, coloured by Faz Choudhury, lettered by ES Kay (2024)

Scott Gray is best known for his lengthy run on the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, largely as a writer, but even that eclectic series didn’t prepare him for Big Shoulders. “It’s been a challenge because I don’t know Chicago, and the story is 100 per cent about the city – its history, its people, its cultures, the whole vibe of the place. But it’s been a really enjoyable challenge, because I love doing research. I’ve been using Google Maps to virtually walk around areas and get a sense of what the houses and shops look like, what are the shape of the traffic lights and rubbish bins, what the alleys look like, that kind of thing.

“Most of the comics stories I’ve drawn I’ve also written, so working with John has pushed me to draw stuff I’ve never tried before, or even considered. And of course, there are dragons! I’d never drawn dragons before, and they’re going to be a big feature of the story – they’re coming in all shapes, sizes and colours!”

Speaking of colours, Big Shoulders is being enhanced by Faz Choudhury, the multi-talented cartoonist who wrote, drew, coloured and lettered the Victorian adventure serial “The Pie Thief”, for the weekly comic The Phoenix. “I managed to convince Faz to colour my line art, which has been something I’ve wanted to see for ages,” Scott said. “Faz and I go way back, and I love his approach to colour – it’s so rich and bold, it’s what I aspire to do with my own stuff. I’m so chuffed to be working with him at last.”

Big Shoulders #1 - Variant Cover by Charlie Adlard

Big Shoulders has a variant cover by Charlie Adlard, known to everyone in the comics world for his epic run on The Walking Dead. “We’ve got Charlie drawing a cover for us, which is fantastic,” Scott said. “I’ve known Charlie for years, and I figured he might enjoy drawing a cover featuring the rock band in the story, Broken Oar. Charlie’s been a drummer in various bands for as long as I’ve known him. He’s demanded that I get Spiff’s drums looking right, so there’s another challenge!

“The whole team has worked really hard on this project, and we’re all very proud of it,” Scott commented. “It’s going to be a really fun ride.”

Big Shoulders #1 by John Dudley and Scott Gray, coloured by Faz Choudhury, lettered by ES Kay (2024)

Big Shoulders is now running on Kickstarter and the campaign page can be found here

Follow John Dudley on X

Follow Scott Gray on X

Follow Faz Choudhury on Instagram | X

Categories: Comic Previews, Comics, Creating Comics, Crowd Funding Projects, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1 reply


  1. Coming Soon – Panel Borders: Fantasy and Horror Locations –

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading