Cases pit artists, copyright holders

Not that he thinks for a second he's the first to speculate. "There's been a homoerotic subtext between Batman and Robin for the last 50 years," says Chamberlain, whose watercolor paintings are currently being exhibited at a chic Manhattan art gallery. Chamberlain insists that his work presents a graphic parody of the superheroes' relationship that's been an inside joke long before he thought of drawing it. But DC Comics - which owns Batman - is not amused. The company says it will sue if the paintings don't come down.

Pop culture

Across the Hudson in a Jersey City studio, artist Ron English's paintings make their own statement on pop culture. Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty smoke a cigarette together. A morbidly obese Ronald McDonald has obviously eaten one too many Big Macs. "I have a pile of cease-and-desist letters," says English of corporate copyright lawyers threatening to sue him. He can't understand why. "Culture is supposed to be fluid. It's not supposed to concentrate into a few corporate hands."