Two of the more prominent “Mike’s” in editorial cartooning — Detroit’s MIKE THOMPSON and Denver’s MIKE KEEFE — recently were awarded two of the industry’s top honors. Comic Riffs caught up with them this week for their reactions, particularly within the context of journalism’s current changes and challenges.

“It’s a huge honor,” says the Detroit Free-Press’s Thompson, of winning the Scripps Howard award for Editorial Cartooning, “especially considering the quality of the work that was done by the two finalists and some of the amazing work that was done in the profession last year.”

The finalists were Ted Rall, for work that appeared in the Los Angeles Times; and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Steve Breen.

“Editorial cartoonists are branching out in many different directions, taking advantage of new technology and new ways to attract readers,” Thompson tells Comic Riffs. “Like the rest of the newspaper industry, my profession will have to evolve, or die.

“I’m glad to see we’re not just sitting around waiting for the undertaker.”

Thompson receives a $10,000 prize; the Scripps Howard Awards — established more than a half-century ago — celebrate “the best in the communications industry and journalism education.”

Denver Post cartoonist Mike Keefe wins the 2011 Fischetti Award for an Arizona immigration cartoon. (Mike Keefe/Denver Post)

“I am honored to be recognized by Columbia College Chicago in the name of John Fischetti, one of the giants in editorial cartooning,” Keefe tells Comic Riffs.

The runners-up were Breen — who won the award last year — and the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Mike Luckovich.

Keefe won for a single cartoon that satirized Arizona ’s new law to curb illegal immigration. The Denver cartoonist previously won the Fischetti in 1991, 2001 and 2007.

The Scripps Howard winners will be honored May 3 in Cincinnati; the Fischetti celebration will be April 14 in Chicago.

Noted Keefe of his Windy City win: “I’m also pleased that it’s just a few minutes walk from the campus to Buddy Guy’s Blues Club. That’s where I’ll be celebrating.”

Fischetti-winning Steve Breen: Awards 'mean more than ever' in tough times