Street Noise Books is publishing a provocative and powerful full-color YA graphic memoir titled I’m a Wild Seed on April 6th by the multi-disciplinary artist and activist Sharon Lee De La Cruz. A collection of spirited autobiographical comics guiding the reader through an understanding of queerness and what it means to one woman of color, I’m a Wild Seed conveys the author’s process of undoing the effects of a patriarchal, colonial society on her self-image, her sexuality, and her concept of freedom.
Reflecting on the ways in which oppression was the cause for her late bloom into queerness, De La Cruz invites us along her roadmap of self-discovery in which we meet the people, places and things in her life that helped shape and inform her LGBTQ identity.
Where did the title of your book I’m a Wild Seed come from?
I chose the title “I’m a Wild Seed” to pay respects to my favorite book “Wild Seed” by Octavia Butler. This particular book made me fall in love with speculative fiction and think more expansively about identity. Octavia is a genius storyteller, who plays with sexuality and gender in her characters, creating worlds where we can imagine role reversal. She has inspired me to keep telling and creating stories.
How does your book explore the intersectionality of your experience as a queer woman of color?
It’s a graphic memoir that takes you through my childhood in the South Bronx and explores how I learned about my queerness and Blackness in mostly White spaces. This book isn’t about the happy ending of realizing who you are, but about the complexities and humor of navigating your sexual and ethnic identity as an adult who is still coming of age.
Why are you drawn to comics as a medium?
I like making comics because of the power of the combination of image and text. I was never a confident writer, but when I began creating comics, I felt safe enough to practice expressing myself in words and to get better at writing. I enjoy comics because they are approachable. Comics are a really good way of taking a serious and complicated subject and packaging it in a way that is not only digestible but also entertaining.
You’re currently the Director Of Sustainability at THE POINT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION which is a non-profit organization dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. Can you discuss a little bit about how being an artist informs your community and youth development work?
Being an artist means that I can visually captivate a large audience which comes in handy when you are community organizing. I can guide folks through addressing issues and their feelings around them through making, which almost becomes like therapy. Understanding process and exercising compassion, discipline, and trust is important for both individual and community work!
You lived in Peru for a period of time. Why were you there? What was that like? And how do you think that experience impacted your perspective on your life and the world?
I lived in Peru for a year during my Fulbright fellowship. There I met a wonderful community of thinkers, feminists, and artists. They taught me about punk feminism, about showing up for community, about living for art, and about art as a community process. My sisters from the Maripussy crew inspire me to continue to stand up for and fight with BIPOC punk feminism. They are the folks I turn to for guidance and reminders when I feel lost.
You’ve done a few collaborations with Calvin Klein, designing a limited-edition perfume bottle, and recently you did a video with them called How to Make a Zine. What do you see as the potential interweaving between commercial art and activism?
If I am able to use the platform of the commercial art world to uplift my activism work without compromising the message, then I think we have a partnership. It’s not always that simple or
successful but specifically with CK, they’ve been awesome at retaining the spirit of the activism and are careful not to dilute it for a wider audience or misrepresent it.
What kind of impact and message do you hope this book might have on your readers’ lives?
I hope that this book makes you laugh, makes you smile, makes you angry, makes you want to donate to grassroots organizations which support transgender folks, makes you want to hug your mother, and makes you think more expansively about your freedom.
It must be weird having your debut as author be during a global pandemic. How are you feeling about this your book coming into the world at this time?
It is totally weird because there are SO MANY things happening at once, but I hope that this book can serve as a conversation starter. I hope this book can provide a safe space to think through the important shifts and challenges in your life.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic is over?
I would love to visit classrooms, host workshops, go to zine fests, and really just hug my friends without being scared.
Thank you, Sharon Lee De La Cruz and Bruce Mason
About the Author
Sharon Lee De La Cruz is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist from New York City. Her thought-provoking pieces address a range of issues related to tech, social justice, sexuality, and race. De La Cruz’s work ranges from comics, graffiti, and public-art murals to more recent explorations in comics, animation, and coding. She graduated with a BFA from Cooper Union and a MPS from NYU-ITP. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Processing Foundation Fellowship, and a Tin House Summer Workshop participant. is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist from New York City. Her thought-provoking pieces address a range of issues related to tech, social justice, sexuality, and race. De La Cruz’s work ranges from comics, graffiti, and public-art murals to more recent explorations in comics, animation, and coding. She graduated with a BFA from Cooper Union and a MPS from NYU-ITP. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Processing Foundation Fellowship, and a Tin House Summer Workshop participant.