I've been seeing some promising signs of a modern day sword-and-sorcery revival, with a growing number of small publishers putting out new works or collections of reprinted works from the old masters. Digital and print magazines are springing up (Tales from the Magician's Skull, etc.), and there's some good scholarship going on in certain corners (DMR, The Dark Man, etc.). All encouraging, and maybe there's a kernel here that will grow.
But sword-and-sorcery is still a niche within a niche. If it's ever going to reach its former heights it needs a lot of help.
Here's what I think sword-and-sorcery needs in order to flourish once again.
1. More readers. We are now seeing many small outlets for S&S fiction crop up, but nothing resembling real commercial markets. It needs to get mainstream, with a larger audience, and more paying consumers to create a viable market for writers and artists. Morgan Holmes once said something along the lines of, what is needed is the modern equivalent of the mass-market S&S paperback of the 1960s and 70s--cheap, eye-catching covers, with good, simple, page-turning stories to back up the packaging. With wide distribution, although times have changed. Printing costs are higher and the days of the drugstore wire-spinning racks have gone, replaced by the online juggernaut Amazon.
2. Good authors. From what I have read there are a few talented modern S&S authors working in the genre today, but who will be our next Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, or Jack Vance? There are a few modern bestselling fantasy authors that I dig--Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin come to mind. Could we see them or their equivalent attempt an S&S splash?
3. A cohesive community, perhaps organized around a fanzine. Guys like Jason Ray Carney are building this right now, with the likes of Whetstone, an amateur magazine that also has a Discord group. I belong to several good Facebook groups, and there are some reasonably well-trafficked Reddit groups and the like. You've got the Swords of REH Proboards and a few other hangouts for the diehards. But it all feels very disparate. Sword-and-sorcery lacks a common gathering space and watering hole, like Amra used to serve. Leo Grin's now defunct Cimmerian journal is the type of publication I'm thinking of.
4. Some type of award, a recognition of excellence for authors and publishers and the like. The closest we had were the Gemmell Awards, which recently died off. I'd love to see a "sword-and-sorcery" category at the Hugos or the Locus Awards but I'm not holding my breath.
5. A crossover hit, probably a film (or a video game). There's a lot of debate over whether these types of media foster readers, but an actual good sword-and-sorcery film (if such a thing were possible) that garnered a lot of good press, and led some mainstream journalists and bloggers to take the time to point the way to the fiction, could spur new interest and new blood. A wildly popular video game may have the same effect. I don't think comics are popular enough these days to spur the level of interest we saw with Conan the Barbarian in 1970.
We will never see the likes of 1968 again but I do think we could experience a third S&S renaissance, if we could make a few of these happen.